What Is the Difference Between 115-grain and 124-grain 9mm Ammo?

What Is the Difference Between 115-grain and 124-grain 9mm Ammo?

What Is the Difference Between 115-grain and 124-grain 9mm Ammo?

The difference is that 124 grain is heavier. That's it, that's the end of the blog post.

Just kidding. It isn't quite that simple, although some people will tell you it is.

As discussed in previous blogs, the grain of the round is the overall weight. Grain is a very small unit of measure — so small it takes more than a few hundred grains to add up to 1 ounce. So, the difference between a 115-grain round and a 124-grain round is the weight, sure. However, that's just the first and biggest difference, not the only difference.

When you change the weight of a round, you do more than just make it heavier. You also change how the gun that’s firing it operates. A heavier round changes how the gun cycles and how the round impacts the intended target — not to mention the recoil that you’ll feel when firing.

What Is Grain?

Before we get into all of these differences, though, let's clarify something first: The grain number of the round refers specifically to the bullet itself. It has nothing to do with the powder and is not the overall weight of the entire cartridge. It's important to make the distinction because, as they say, knowledge is power.

Of course, so is mass. When the overall weight of the round is heavier, there's more mass flying at the target. Before any science teachers launch a new Spanish Inquisition because of that last statement, we'll note that mass and weight aren't the same thing. But if you're comparing two things that are composed of the same materials, it’s generally accurate to say that whichever one weighs more also has more mass.

Energy Delivered by the Round

So naturally, hurling heavier rounds at a target has the potential to deliver more energy into the target. The heavier round is stuffing more mass into the same small space — like 90% of people wearing skinny jeans. Think about it this way: All 9mm rounds are the same size — 9 millimeters — so more mass packed in that 9 millimeters means more energy being driven into the target. Remember the theory of relativity? Energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared. Didn't know you were getting a science lesson today, did you?

All of this boils down to a couple of differences that you may or may not feel as a shooter.

Recoil Differences Between 115- and 124-grain Rounds

The first and most immediately detectable difference is in recoil. Inevitably, someone will object, bringing up the powder load and other factors of the round that can change recoil. This is valid because, yes, there are a lot of things that make up the ballistic profile of a particular round, and each can impact recoil, but bullet weight is absolutely one of those things. This is where the mass of the round comes into play: The denser, heavier, round puts up more resistance to the gasses that are expanding and pushing it through the barrel. This translates to more felt recoil.

It may be that this is all a perception thing. Many people describe the lighter rounds as "snappy" in their recoil and say a bigger grain often feels like a flatter, more even push.

Even if this does come down to an issue of preference based on perception, you still want to get the round you like better. Every range trip is valuable training time, and on top of that, shooting is supposed to be fun, so don't ruin it by getting stuck on a grain weight that recoils in a way you don't like.

Accuracy of Different Grain Rounds

Certain guns are more accurate with different grain weights. You might find that you're Annie Oakley with a 115-grain round but Clint Eastwood's character in Unforgiven with a 124, for example. You'll have to try different grains to find what works best for you, your gun and how you shoot.

Performance of Various Grain Weights

You might also find some guns perform better with different rounds. While this can be affected by your grip and shooting style to a degree, in most cases certain guns just simply perform better with certain grain rounds. This, again, is partially due to the mass: Some guns are designed to account for that pushback and some are not.

So what's the difference between 115-grain and 124-grain 9mm ammo? The 124-grain is heavier. But that heaviness affects more than just how it feels when you hold it. It affects the ballistics, the performance, the recoil and the energy. Simply put, the difference between these rounds doesn't end with saying one is heavier than the other; it starts there.

 

Looking for 9mm 115 Grain Practice and Defense Ammo? Click Here

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glenn valentine
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could some comment about 9mm 147 grain ammo??
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Dan Brown
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I was told at my local FFL that the 147 felt more like a push than a snap, much like described above. I haven't tested this yet, and he uses a Glock while I'm using a Sig. Grip angle affects felt recoil too so buy a box and try it out.
Malcolm
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The same pattern that's true between 115 and 127 will be true, but to a greater degree. 147 grain bullets are around 15% more massive than 127, meaning that they will "feel heavier" and will typically have lower muzzle velocity than a 127 with a comparable powder load. The difference between a 147 and a 115 is the same, but more extreme. While it shouldn't make a noticeable difference at the distance most handguns are operated from, a slower bullet will technically have more drop-off at the same distance than a bullet with higher velocity.
Gunsmoke Mcgee
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147 is even heavier...
Daniel Bush
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At that point (being so much heavier), you might start seeing subsonic ammunition which is useful for firing through suppressors, making a potentially more enjoyable time shooting at target practice for yourself and neighbors.
Lonell Hamilton
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I was wondering that myself... I've seen Sig teamed with Sierra for my Glock 45 Gen 5...may be a nice shot but it comes 90, 124 & 147 grain...I'm going to purchase all three and take a trip to the range... I'll leave updates after
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SteveK9
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Physics lesson needed here. Kinetic energy = 1/2 m v^2 (mc^2 is the conversion factor between mass and energy ... a bullet does not involve high energy physics). I don't know the answer but simply increasing the mass, if the velocity decreases, which will generally be true since higher mass has higher inertia (in fact that is the definition of mass), so equal pressure applied over the same period of time (that might also not be true) would decrease the velocity as the round exits the barrel.
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Sol
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You are correct that the velocity would decrease due to the heavier weight.
Steve
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In English units of measure Muzzle energy = bullet mass x bullet velocity 2 / ( 2 x dimensional constant x 7000 ). Close but no cigar for you my friend. Might have over thought that one lol. Typically a heavier bullet fired from the same platform and caliber is going to travel slower than a lighter bullet sure but your looking at it like your applying the same pressure to each bullet and that's not the case. If you fired a 124gr bullet with the same powder load as the 115gr bullet your chamber pressure will be higher with the 124gr because your pushing more mass but you usually do get higher energy factors from a heavy per caliber bullet. Grab a reloading manual and even if you don't reload knowledge is power!
SteveK9
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Sorry about the typo and the overlong sentence. Should have been ' ... simply increasing the mass will not necessarily increase the kinetic energy, if the velocity decreases ... etc.
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Ermin
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I was going to say, but you said it
Gordon
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I agree. I have noticed on almost all bullets from all manufacturers that the energy actually goes down when the bullets get heavier due to decreased velocity.
Justin M. Carris
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Which is more accurate. Low grain vs High grain?
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Mark A
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There is not much difference. Certain guns work better with the 115 grain and some work better with the 124 grain . You need to test the different grains to see which one is better . Sometimes the less recoil the better and sometimes more is better .
Brandon
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I would think high grain because it simply comes out faster and doesn't slow down for the b******* it also goes further
Roy
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I think, I may be wrong, accuracy has more to do with the shooter, trigger management, grip to control the guns movement then the actual size/weight of the projectile. But I may be completely wrong, I've only been shooting around 4 years and I'm 74 may have something to do with my thinking!
Randy ogden
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It depends on a few things I reload and you really have shoot a few different bullets, weights and powder charges before you find what that gun prefers , but you can have 2 guns same model barrel everything and they might like 2 completely different bullets and charges to get the same accuracy from both of them so try a few different ones at same time you’ll see which one has tightest group that will let you know what that gun likes
bonjarta
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'...The denser, heavier, round puts up more resistance to the gasses that are expanding and pushing it through the barrel. This translates to more felt recoil...." .....this is actually the opposite advise from all of my other searches ?
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Chuck
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The heavier bullets in automatic pistols with most likely recoil less. The 9mm 147grn , .40 180grn, and in .45 the 230grn. That’s just common knowledge and I’m not sure why that’s not in the opening post.
Clifford M. Deal
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So....close to my answer but no cigar... Loading 38 caliber {R} ammo rather than Auto, I want to know the speed variance if you use the same powder charge. Is there a way to figure the difference 20 grains of weight makes ?
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Save
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Chronograph!
RICHARD FREELAND
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That is what a chronograph is for! FPS change for many effects temperature change ect. for one with same load
Dan D
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google the article "Why ballisticians get gray." It was published in a Speer reloading manual too. It discusses all the variables that go into ammo and its performance in guns. The focus is on handguns (357 I think) and is extremely informative. Realize there are so many variables for ammo:, in exact bullet wt, diameter, powder charge, primer charge, case wt/ capacity, crimp resistance, temperature,. And for guns, bore and chamber diameter, cylinder gap in revolvers, chamber leade, bore condition, barrel length..........Like others say here - a chronograph can measure bullet speed and with that you can calculate average and variance of a particular load. Some handgun loads can be highly variable. Link to the article: https://leverguns.com/articles/ballisticians.htm
Joe
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Mass and weight are related by the same constant: gravity. It doesn’t matter if two objects are made of different materials because as long as you’re talking about being on earth the heavier object always has mor mass. This is because mass is defined as weight divided by the gravity or: mass = weight/gravity = weight/32.174 More weight means more mass regardless of the materials you are talking about
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chris
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which has more mass ? pound of lead or pound of water or r they the same ? not
Steve
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I think you need a physics lesson my friend because the heavier object doesn't always have more mass. Mass and weight are not the same thing. So your saying the mass of a 5 lb. Tungsten cube would be the same mass as a 5 lb styrofoam cube just cause they weigh the same?
Rob
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Yes, because that’s how physics works. You’re confusing density with mass. Joe’s quite correct here.
Stephen Graham
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Quite the absurdly uninformative "article". The only usable info is that 124 grains weighs more than 115 grains (here on the surface of earth)! BY THE WAY, mass and weight are NOT the same (go back to your High School physics). Mass is INDEPENDENT of Gravity. The force of gravity upon a given mass is measured as weight. Lastly, neither 115, 124, or 147 grain 0mm is more accurate. For a given barrel, one might be more accurate than the other, but there is NO difference in the inherent accuracy of bullets with different weights. Recoil and muzzle-flip are 2 different phenpmena encountered when firing' they are both measurable by objective means "Perceived" recoil is an absolutely subjective thing.
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Edward
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Best, most accurate response I've read on this threat so far! Well done.
JS Forth
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True. The article says a bunch of nothing. What is a grain? Well, explain it. How many grains in an ounce? Just a rambling, no information post. Who the hell wrote it?
1r0nb1rd
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124 is more than 115 on any planet.
JD Shellnut
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I can comment that the 147 grain is typically subsonic and is therefore much more quiet when fired through a suppressor.
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Roy
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I'm sure that many hand gunners don't use%00.00 or more suppresses on a %00 to 600.00 guns.
Pat M Darling
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This was very interesting poeple alway saying she'll size has more powder but this is not the case restrictions between 115 gr and 124gr is a factor assume 115gr fly faster then a 124 grain but 124gr hits harder would this be correct
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Edward
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It depends... Some ammo is rated(made) to higher pressure. Called + P.... I have some 124gr +P that is actually faster than standard pressure 115gr, thus more energy. That energy is evident both in recoil and impact.
joey
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147 grain is even heavier
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Jabe
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Unless you have measured the barrel exit speed of each round from the same gun you cannot determine the energy of either bullet. And unless you know that each powder load is identical you cannot make any comparison. What we can say is that given an equivalent powder load there will be equivalent initial pressure. With the same pressure the lighter bullet will exit the barrel in less time. The shorter the barrel transit time the less acceleration time the bullet has. This could be a limiting factor in barrel exit speed. Use a gun with a longer barrel and the bullet will exit at a higher speed. With regards to energy, the maximum energy either bullet will attain will not be higher than the energy of the powder load. For any gun with any mass bullet the ultimate energy will be limited by powder load.
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EDWARD ENGLISH
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One other issue I have heard relates to return spring. I have a Canik TP9 which I have hear has return springs tuned to NATO 124 gr. It's a Turkish gun. Some complain of stove pipes with 115 gr. You can get replacement springs tuned to 115 gr. I mostly shoot 115 gr and haven't run into this but haven't done a lot of shooting with it yet. I'm a snow bird and I bought it in Florida so I didn't need to deal with the checked airline baggage with my North guns. I haven't shot it a lot because I just bought and also because of ammo shortages but will check this out more in the Winter. This may be an issue with other guns with 124 gr springs.
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Michael Steven Martin
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I went to the range today shooting 3 different pistols. And my newest, a Wilson Combat Tactical Supergrade. Bought it for myself a month ago, for my birthday, big, heavy, accurate. I started by shooting my XD9 first, and i knew that I had a mixed bag of ammo. 115 and 124. I am a newbie to precision sports. I noticed the 124s had a more solid recoil (and a bigger flash) than the 115s. I liked the 124s better and I shot better. Had that "push" described in the article. From here on out, for range practice, I'm requesting 124 grain.
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Richard a Millett
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Iv seen that if you are shooting low it could be ammo. 115 9mm has a lower point of impact then 124 is this true
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Mark Murphy
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The ammo weight really doesn't have anything to do with it. What makes the difference is the velocity of the bullet as to whether or not the impact is lower. A slower moving bullet will hit the target lower. All things accelerate downward at a constant rate. A bullet traveling at any velocity, shot from a given height, will hit the ground at the same moment as a bullet dropped from the same height. Of course I am neglecting wind resistance for this discussion. However, at most pistol shooting distances, you should not be able to tell a difference in the drop. I suspect it is more an issue of what your gun likes to shoot. Good luck.
Rick
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Short answer is Yes, heavier bullets typically shoot higher in a handgun than lighter bullets, but other factors figure into the equation as previously mentioned. If you shoot the same brand "range" ammo and go up in bullet weight with their loads, the impact will usually always impact higher with the increased bullet weight.
Red
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Ive shot 108gr and 115 today both are good as for the 124gr would not buy it because it's slower
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Larry D
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Slower, yes in mili- seconds to the same target at 25 yards.
Brandon
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Agreed
Johann
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It makes sense that heavier bullets drop more, if there are no differences in propellant forces, because the bullet would be travelling just a wee bit slower - thus taking an extra fraction of time to arrive at target. That fraction of time allows gravity to exert more pull down - thus a heavier bullet should have a wee bit more drop all else being equal. I confess I am not clear how barrel lengths and twist rates can affect travel - my guess is not much except for the fact any one barrel length may give enough time for the slower, heavier bullet, to receive more energy from the gases than a lighter, faster, bullet.
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chris
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barrel length will add feet per second in pistol or rifle ,dont worry about twist rate in pistol, only in rifle does it matter, same for bullet drop in pistol it won't drop enough unless u r shooting many feet, if u r shooting low u r pushing forward when u pull the trigger
Brandon
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We're talking about grain here which means the amount of powder not the weight of the bullet. If you want to have your bullet go 45
Michael J Steinbrink
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can I get some ballistics or educated leadership here? Thats what I need. Is it worth the money to go from 115 to 124 or 147 as far as stopping power and trajectory?
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Cliff
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I think the best thing is to look at your gun manufacturer’s information. What do THEY say is best to fire through your pistola? Then after that, if you have to use a different grain, be ready to deal with your pistol if it doesn’t cycle—which we should practice anyway.
Brandon
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I kind of agree with cliff but I would recommend firing the highest grain possible
Will Gibbons
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No it is not! 115 gr is absolutely the best round for defense in any theatre of operation
Will Gibbons
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No do not waste money on higher gr rounds, the 115 gr. Is absolutely the best round for defense in any theater of operation.
Kevin
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I wunder why no one mentioned the round itself. What would change, if anything, for say a 9mm FMJ , vs a 9mm JHP round. Wouldn't that alone change the grain? Just sayin' ???
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Marcia
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That is a very good question, any difference between FMJ and JHP ammo?
chris
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if its 115 gr fmj or 115gr hollow point ,its a 115gr bullet , powder charge maybe different ,ammo box may give info , or go on line, look for fps or fpe
Dan D
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No when you buy 115 FMJ or HP, the bullet will weigh 115 grains. The HP is likely to be a little longer or have a wider point than the FMJ to make up for the hollow point. Same at all grain wts.
Rick
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KE=1/2mv^2.
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Rob
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Thank you! So mass is only proportional to Kinetic energy but that same energy varies proportionally with the square of the velocity. So an increase of 4 in mass equates to an increase of 4 in KE. Yet, an increase of 4 in velocity yields an increase of 16 in KE. How can someone compose this article without stressing (much less not even mention) velocity? Generally speaking, if you compare the same caliber but different weights of FMJ rounds from the exact same name brand & product line, the lower weight round (115 gr in this case) has a higher muzzle velocity. Comparing CCI brass FMJ 115 vs. 124 grain posted specifications, the posted muzzle velocity difference of 1145 fps compared to 1090 fps yields 335 ft-lb versus 327 ft-lb of muzzle energy. So the bullet with less weight & more velocity at the muzzle delivers more energy into the same target at that point. This is just one example. It is generally true but there are exceptions. You must do the math for each situation. Take a little extra time & look at the specs on the rounds that work best in your firearm! I expect you will gain a lot of respect for the role velocity plays after looking closer into this! I hope this helps you determine what is best for you!
FTE Issues . Was told by friends and Beretta customer care that 124 grain will virtually eliminate the problem after a decent break in period. Does this make any sense at all????
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Have a Beretta Nano which has Known FTE issues. Was using 115 grain. Was told by friends and Beretta Customer customer care that this problem should be eliminated by using 124 grain after a reasonable break in period. Does this make any sense at all????
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Ed
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It actually does... the DWELL TIME, when the bullet is actually accelerating through the barrel changes by a measurable amount with a heavier bullet taking longer. That extra time allows the Bbl to also accelerate a bit longer, yielding a bit more force on the slide for extraction. I have a 9mm that loves 147, 124 is ok, 115 is NFG.
C.A
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Yes it does with a few pistols. I have had 2 that would not cycle 115gr but 124gr and up worked fine. Walther pps and that small Kimber 9mm.....forgot the model
Fred
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Had a H&K Vp9, right out of the box had problems with 115 grain, the dealer said you should break it in with 124 grain. Shot a couple of boxes of 124 and never had a problem. Went back to 115 grain and never had a problem again with the lighter round.
Super cool guy or not…
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For practice purposes it really doesn’t matter. Most target distance isn’t going to be that far at all anyway, so it’s not going to make much difference one way or the other. Shooting a couple hundred rounds of 230 .45 will make a difference though, because your arms will get sore if you’re not in shape…
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Bob Bourgoin
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If you increase the bullet weight of a cartridge, all other factors like bullet material, obviously bore diameter remain the same, the bullet gets longer, which decreases the cases powder capacity if seated to the same depth as the lighter bullet. Bullet length and barrel twist impact the stability of the projectile in flight. Faster twists stabilize heavier bullets better. A factor to consider.
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Conan says
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The comments are more informative than the article. Lol!
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Kevin
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A grain is 1/7000th of a pound, so a very small unit of measure indeed. With ordinary target ammo I don't notice much difference between 115 and 124 grain. I generally prefer 124 though, because that weight is sort of the nominal 9mm bullet. Early in the cartridge's history they seemed to settle on that weight (which is an even 8 grams in metric). I'd be interested to know when 115 became common, and what the reason was. Material saving?
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Rob C
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So this tells us nothing USEFUL about the differences? Thanks for wasting time! What are the ballistic differences at 10, 25, or 50 yds? What changes in the impact on a threat target? We the public want to practice with the same grain what we carry, and ANY information about those could drastically change things for us.
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Lee Fisher
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A hollow point .45 will eliminate the need for all this detailed knowledge.
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chris
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to answer the ? I reload, say u r reloading max powder load, u must use less powder for heaver bullet, because it is harder to push, which will make more back pressure they will hit with the same energy when u buy self defense ammo look for fpe not bullet weight, energy = stopping power many ammo boxes don't have fpe lnfo u can google it and or go to bullet energy calculator, weight+feet per second=fpe foot pounds of energy
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Robert
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Since we were offered a science I have to make a correction. Energy is mass x speed-squared, not speed of light-squared.
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Brandon
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If you can't handle a heavier recoil you probably will not make it in a self-defense situation
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Brandon
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I've shot 150 grain all day and it's much more accurate
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Brandon
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Wrong. Simply because if you're in a gunfight you want to win
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Brandon
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Edit. If you want a heavier bullet go to 45
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Brandon
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Y'all motherfuckers must be target shooting. In real situations what's most important? You and your family lives? Or your fukin wrist? Man up guns are for defense. Period....
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I can clearly see the need for better STEM education after reading these comments.
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I can clearly see the need for better STEM education after reading these comments.
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John E. Hankwitz
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I can clearly see the need for better STEM education after reading these comments.
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Mark
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Don't over think this folks. Every firearm has different characteristics and each will fire any given ammo better than another. Knock down power is a moot point in that a poorly placed shot has no knock down power whatsoever. My ONLY point here is, get the ammo that YOUR gun fires the most accurately, then practice diligently with it. If it isn't broke, DON'T FIX IT!
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Steve
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My 357 likes a max velocity, slow burning powder with a 158 grain bullet. With that load it's a tack driver. My father-in-law's 357 likes a lower velocity, fast burning powder and a 125 grain bullet. With that load it's a tack driver. We switch rounds and my gun delivers a target spread that looks more like a shotgun pattern, same with his. So, it also matters how well your gun handles the load and how well it shoots. I know you are addressing 9mm rounds, not 357 Magnum. So, I'll say, I have several 9mm firearms. Some like 115 grain, some like 124 grain. My recommendation is try both, see which you prefer and then make a choice.
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TDavid
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sorry but the aritcle is awful and should be deleted and, if you want to post something, let someone who understands ballistics rewrite it. previous comments identify the problems. no need to restate them.
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jay
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yes. New High Powers were noted for this problem. 115 will sometimes stovepipe during the first 200-300 rds. no problem w/ 124's After break-in, the 115's run fine. Because the slide moves harder from the 124g, the recoil spring can tailor the recoil to a specific round/shooter style. +P, and +P+ ammo changes things also.
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Chuck
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I"m just getting back into shooting so please excuse me if I am a little off here. I am trying to remember what I had learned many years ago. All of this seems well and good but what is your pistol designed to shoot? The twist of the barrel may have a greater impact than the grains of the round. Different weapons are designed around different rounds. The AR 15 has barrel twists of 1:7, 1:8, 1:9, 1:12 because they are designed around certain rounds that are expected to be fired through them for accuracy. As I recall, John Browning designed the 1911 to fire a 230 gr bullet so the barrel was 5" long with something like a 1:8 twist to provide the greatest amount of accuracy for that sized round. Look and see what your pistol was designed to shoot and train on those rounds. If you do get into a firefight, chances are it won't be much different than most law enforcement officers. About 21 feet. Don't worry about the size. You're not trying to drop an Elk. You are trying to protect yourself and your family. Become proficient with what works best in your pistol.
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Watson
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In smaller compact and sub-compact guns I prefer the 9mm 65gr ARX Inceptor. The muzzle velocity is 1650 (fps). The muzzle energy is 393 (ft lbs). The felt recoil is negligible. Of course this would be for soft targets. If you believe the target would require penetrating auto glass or something similar than a heavier bullet like the 135gr Critical Duty might be suggested. Preferences are revised as the evolution of ammunition continues.
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Shindoryu
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Going by this articles comments, all this article has done has created more questions. My defense 9mm load is 147 Hornaday, I use 124 grain fmj for practice, knowing that one is going to shoot different over the other. IMHO, 115 grain is fine for range day/plinking. If looking for stopping power, 147 grain has a high potential.
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Mark Terrell
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With the same amount of propellant, would a lighter bullet be more accurate over a longer distance than a higher grain bullet?
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Tracy
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I am surprised the article didn't cover speed given most of the heavier stuff travels at slower speeds. I mean yeah could add gunposder to a heavier load to keep the speed up, but generally, when the weight goes up the speed goes down. 147 grain subsonic 9mm as a good example. Its true that "most" 9mm is already subsonic, but I get quite a few rounds that result in a supersonic crack (depending on the altitude and temperature that day). So when I want to shoot without ears, I usually go for the 147 grain.
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