Monday, August 18, 2003

Carbines and Bullet Selction

Coyote at the Dog Show weighs in on the matter and makes a critical point:

Expanding bullets are designed to work within a narrow range of velocities. Push them too slow and they don't expand, push them too fast and they explode on impact like a varmint bullet. Thus, the 357 magnum 125gr. JHP that is so very effective from a handgun frequently vaporizes on impact when fired from a carbine, failing to penetrate or cause more than superficial wounds.

This used to be a problem for the .357 Magnum. JHPs were designed to expand at max velocities which could only obtained from barrels of 6" or more. When the bullets were fired in revolvers with 2-4" barrels, they behaved more like round-nosed lead or FMJ bullets.

Ammo makers addressed that by creating rounds designed with personal protection/concealed carry in mind. They were slower and often lighter than standard rounds. For example, Federal offered a 165 grain hollow point for the .45 ACP and Remington loaded its 125 grain Golden Saber to 1,220 fps in the .357 rather than the 1,450 fps that is the norm for that weight. Most importantly, the jackets were designed to allow the hollow points to open up at lower velocities.

But as the Coyote points out, a good bullet at 1,200 fps will probably fail at 1,700 fps. Which is something to keep in mind when choosing ammo. One size does not fit all, especially in the .357.

On the other hand, just because you can shoot the same load in both your revolver and carbine, nothing says you have to. Nothing says you can't use the 125 grain Golden Saber in you CCW piece, and a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter for the carbine. In a pinch, they are still interchangeable.