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This reply was originally posted in the HK section to Jake S. question on short barrled ballistics and bullet weight questions from the .45acp USPc.

I though it may be worthwhile to also post it here:


Jake,
Flattery, flattery..... Seriously all that I know is that I need to know more.

I will give your question a shot,
Well it is not as much a case that the loads are bad, rather the 185gr loadings are “ok”. The main failing has not been weight or velocity or energy or any other ridiculous marketing claim, but rather a lag in technology advancements. The disadvantage has been that the 185gr class does not have the engineering research and development time that the more popular 230gr and to a lesser extent the 200gr loadings receive from the bullet designers. In comparison to their “bigger” siblings the GD 185 and GS 185 loadings are very poor performers, the Hydra Shock is a notorious failure in the 185 class, so you have run out of current premium loadings, even the “old” silvertip is mediocre in comparison to a 230gr GD or GD+P loading.

In comparison the 230gr premium bullets are heavily designed, tested, and reevaluated.

The end result has been that we have two distinctly different camps within the 185gr class, the "older" traditional design that often experiences cavity plugging and failure to expand like the Remington 185gr jhp.

This was followed by a seriously misguided trend to build extra pressure/higher velocity for the caliber rounds that go far beyond the structural design limitations built into the bullets core construction. This did not help the Remington 185gr jhp +P as it now penetrates to a much deeper level given the poor cavity design and increased velocity. On the other hand the Nosler, Sierra, and Rainer are equally poor for a different reason; These rounds are often more dangerous as they present the end user with a false sense of safety, this is very similar to the old security/liability argument that you do not really need working security cameras in your establishment, just have "dummy" cameras they are enough of a deterrent... Well as we have learned the cameras are not a sufficient deterrent and a great number of victims were raped, injured, and brutally murdered and the survivors all stated that they believed that help would arrive at any time, so they did not mount an aggressive defense as they believed they were secure and help was on the other end of the cameras, today we have been flooded with the marketing hype and outlandish claims that the mere presence of a gun or the mere use of a bullet that is smaller than your thumb, that possess less physical momentum than a 12oz can of soda falling off of the counter onto your foot can somehow stop a 200lb predator.

Although this is paraphrasing, I want to reinforce that the image of handgun performance and ability has been heavily overdone, the performance of the 185gr jhp and +P jhp is certainly better than other smaller calibers.
But one should not rely heavily on these rounds as these shallow penetration rounds are creating the false illusion of bullet/wounding performance.
It is this reality that makes the performance of the “magic” round so sought after and the overall performance of your bullet so very important.
A truly effective bullet does not optimize one are for increased performance in another, velocity does not improve performance, penetration beyond optimum does not help, talons, fiberglass, shot, plastic, do not help unless the bullet is designed for a wide range of environments and potential targets.

To return to your question;

Going to one of these 165gr or 185gr rounds due to a shorter barrel or perceived lower velocity is not a good idea; the loss in expanded overall diameter in comparison to a premium 230gr jhp loading or even a next generation 200gr loading like the GD 200gr +P as compared to a higher velocity short barrel jhp diameter is truly insignificant and it is truly a very unimportant subject.

The inability of your chosen bullets to effectively penetrate the heavy tissues and bone structures of the predator attacking you will, I promise you be a very serious issue.
It will change your life forever.

For those persons that must also depend upon the ability to pass through intermediary barriers to reach the target, they are going to need to transition to a more effective loading almost immediately as they will quickly discover they have been lied to and “sold a bill of goods”.

If you are changing to one of these loadings for the reduced recoil to increase or assist you in being more accurate and give you the ability to generate follow-up rounds then it is something to consider and the failure/fragmentation and under penetration risks may be outweighed by the need to effectively deploy your defensive weapon.

As always, test before you carry and use what you are confident in.
 

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David's post gave me another crazy idea - a soda-can-firing "potato gun" snubbie! Compressed air, one shot, barrel as long as the chamber. The whole thing could be about the size of a tennis ball can, maybe slightly longer. Fire one UNOPENED soda can COM at 5 yds (no sights), and I bet one would have a pretty good OSS percentage, at least if the can was followed by pummeling the "downed" attacker about the head and neck before they regained their wind...:lol:
 
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