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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's some popular handgun cartridge momentum ratings based on factory muzzle velocities. Semi-autos are rated in the most popular barrel length for the cartridge. Revolvers are rated in 4" barrel lengths except the 327 Fed is 3 1/16” and the 45 Colt is 7.5”.

For self defense, a handgun should have a momentum rating between 20 and 30 for best effectiveness. Ratings over 30 indicate excessive power for self defense but are preferred for big game hunting. The further ratings drop below 20, the more it indicates sub-standard self defense performance. The numbers in ( ) are Momentum rank order. Muzzle Energy in ft lbs are included for reference and are in rank order in [ ].

Pistols

(1) 25 ACP 50 gr @ 760 fps, Momentum = 5.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 64 ft lbs [1]

(2) 32 ACP 65 gr @ 950 fps, Momentum = 8.8 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 130 ft lbs [3]
(3) 32 ACP 71 gr @ 905 fps, Momentum = 9.2 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 129 ft lbs [2]

(4) 380 Auto, 88 gr @ 1000 fps, Momentum = 12.1 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 195 ft lbs [5]
(5) 380 Auto, 90 gr @ 955 fps, Momentum = 13.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 182 ft lbs [4]

(12) 9mm, 115 gr @ 1155 fps, Momentum = 19.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 341ft lbs [15]
(13) 9mm, 124 gr @ 1120 fps, Momentum = 19.8 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 345 ft lbs [16]
(17) 9mm, 147 gr @ 990 fps, Momentum = 20.8 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 320 ft lbs [13]

(24) 357 SIG, 115 gr @ 1564 fps, Momentum = 25.7 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 625 ft lbs [35]*
(19) 357 SIG, 124 gr @ 1329 fps, Momentum = 23.5 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 486 ft lbs [29]
(20) 357 SIG, 147 gr @ 1186 fps, Momentum = 24.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 459 ft lbs [28]

(21) 40 S&W, 155 gr @ 1150 fps, Momentum = 25.2 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 455 ft lbs [27]
(26) 40 S&W, 165 gr @ 1110 fps, Momentum = 26.2 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 452 ft lbs [26]
(22) 40 S&W, 180 gr @ 990 fps, Momentum = 25.5 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 392 ft lbs [19]

(27) 45 ACP, 185 gr @ 1000 fps, Momentum = 26.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 411 ft lbs [23]
(29) 45 ACP, 200 gr @ 940 fps, Momentum = 26.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 393 ft lbs [20]
(30) 45 ACP, 230 gr @ 850 fps, Momentum = 27.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 369 ft lbs [18]

(34) 10mm Auto, 155 gr @ 1410 fps, Momentum = 31.2 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 684 ft lbs [36]
(35) 10mm Auto, 180 gr @ 1240 fps, Momentum = 31.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 615 ft lbs [34]
(36) 10mm Auto, 200 gr @ 1050 fps, Momentum = 32.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 587 ft lbs [33]

Revolvers

(6) 32 H&R Mag, 85 gr @ 1100 fps, Momentum = 13.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 228 ft lbs [7]
(7) 32 H&R Mag, 95 gr @ 1030 fps, Momentum = 14.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 224 ft lbs [6]

(9) 327 Fed Mag, 85 gr @ 1330 fps, Momentum = 16.1 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 334 ft lbs [14]
(14) 327 Fed, Mag 100 gr @ 1400 fps, Momentum = 20.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 435 ft lbs [25]
(18) 327 Fed, Mag 115 gr @ 1300 fps, Momentum = 21.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 432 ft lbs [24]

(8) 38 Spec, 110 gr @ 1000 fps, Momentum = 15.7 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 244 ft lbs [8]
(10) 38 Spec, 125 gr @ 950 fps, Momentum = 17.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 251 ft lbs [9]
(11) 38 Spec, 140 gr @ 900 fps, Momentum = 18.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 252 ft lbs [10]
(15) 38 Spec, 158 gr @ 890 fps, Momentum = 20.1 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 278 ft lbs [11]

(16) 357 Mag, 110 gr @ 1295 fps, Momentum = 20.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 410 ft lbs [21]
(25) 357 Mag, 125 gr @ 1450 fps, Momentum = 25.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 584 ft lbs [32]
(31) 357 Mag, 140 gr @ 1360 fps, Momentum = 27.2 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 575 ft lbs [31]
(32) 357 Mag, 158 gr @ 1235 fps, Momentum = 27.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 535 ft lbs [30]

(37) 41 Mag, 170 gr @ 1420 fps, Momentum = 34.5 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 761 ft lbs [37]
(38) 41 Mag, 210 gr @ 1300 fps, Momentum = 39.0 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 788 ft lbs [38]

(23) 44 Spec, 200 gr @ 900 fps, Momentum = 25.7 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 360 ft lbs [17]
(28) 44 Spec, 246 gr @ 755 fps, Momentum = 26.5 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 311 ft lbs [12]

(40) 44 Mag, 180 gr @ 1610 fps, Momentum = 41.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 1036 ft lbs [44]
(39) 44 Mag, 200 gr @ 1420 fps, Momentum = 40.6 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 896 ft lbs [41]
(42) 44 Mag, 240 gr @ 1350 fps, Momentum = 46.3 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 971 ft lbs [43]

*(41) 45 Colt 225 gr @ 1350 fps, Momentum = 43.4 lb-f/s – Muzzle Energy = 911 ft lbs [40]
(33) 45 Colt, 250 gr @ 860 fps, Momentum = 30.7 lb-f/s – Muzzle Energy = 411 ft lbs [22]
*(43) 45 Colt, 250 gr @ 1250 fps, Momentum = 44.6 lb-f/s – Muzzle Energy = 868 ft lbs [39]
*(44) 45 Colt, 300 gr @ 1200 fps, Momentum = 51.4 lb-f/s – Muzzle Energy = 959 ft lbs [42]

* T/C and Ruger Only Loads

If you chronograph loads in your own gun, you can compute the exact Muzzle Energy:
Energy in ft lbs = Velocity (in fps) squared divided by 450240 times bullet weight (in grains). Example using the above 45 ACP, 230 gr load: 850*850=722500/450240=1.605*230=369 ft lbs.

Momentum can be computed too: Momentum in lb-f/s = bullet weight (in grains) divided by 7000 times velocity (in fps). Same example as above: 230/7000=.03285*850=27.9 lb-f/s
 
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My ideas on this are that momentum is a better indicator of killing ability rather than kinetic energy. Like a 50 gr .224 bullet @ 3800 vs a 110 gr .308 bullet @ 2000. I don't know the exact measurements of each in foot pounds but if they were approximately equal I would prefer to have the .30 over the .22.

(mass (in slugs, or weight adjusted for gravity) times velocity squared divided by 2 = foot pounds

kind of academic

Taylor probably thought some big bullet plowing into some beast was better than a screaming fast tiny bullet.
 

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If you chronograph loads in your own gun, you can compute the exact Muzzle Energy:
Energy in ft lbs = Velocity (in fps) squared divided by 450240 times bullet weight (in grains). Example using the above 45 ACP, 230 gr load: 850*850=722500/450240=1.605*230=369 ft lbs.

Momentum can be computed too: Momentum in lb-f/s = bullet weight (in grains) divided by 7000 times velocity (in fps). Same example as above: 230/7000=.03285*850=27.9 lb-f/s
This is GREAT info.

In IDPA, IPSC, USPSA, etc. They use "power factor" which is
bullet weight X velocity.

Any more info like this is greatly appreciated.
 

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Great info without a doubt.

only thing I find different is: My chrono'd 110 gr .357 loads are more like 1500+ fps (still within current SAAMI specs per reloading books) which should be about 540+ ft lbs. of muzzle energy. Out of my 77/357 they are well above 2K fps.

"(16) 357 Mag, 110 gr @ 1295 fps, Momentum = 20.4 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 410 ft lbs [21]"
 

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Great post! Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
scooter.maclusky, The data for the cartridges listed were taken from factory ammo sources using barrel lengths as noted in the first paragraph. If you reload to something other than factory specs or have a different barrel length (especially a rifle), muzzle energy and momentum will be way different. Here's where a chronograph comes in handy.
 

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I am probably going to start an argument with this, not trying to piss anyone off. I worked in a slaughterhouse for 4 1/2 years. It was an old school kinda place and we would shoot them in the head. 95% of the time we just used a .22 and it dropped them pretty quick. Every once in awhile the guys would bring in there their guns from home to show them off. I got to shoot cattle in the head with a 22 LR, 9 mm, 38 Spec, 357 Mag, 44 spec, 44 mag, 45 ACP, 45LC, and a 30 Herret Contender over those 4 1/2 years. I had just bought a Colt 9mm and brought it in to give it a try. Long story short, the 9mm did not do as good as any of the others. The guys gave me so much crap I sold it shortly afterwards (stupid, I know). I have not been a 9mm fan since then. I remember when they replaced the 45's with the Beretta while I was in the Army, I was not happy either. Did not like shooting the Beretta at all. Just a personal observation, hell, could have been the shells I was using.
 

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Iowegan, I appreciate you and your posts. Thanks. :)
According to this chart, it would seem that anything .357 Magnum is in the right zone. ;)
 

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:rolleyes: The variable is: sometimes not all energy is spent on the target i.e. Pass thru
 

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This is GREAT info.

In IDPA, IPSC, USPSA, etc. They use "power factor" which is
bullet weight X velocity.

Any more info like this is greatly appreciated.
In other words, power factor is the same as momentum since mass and weight are essentially interchangeable (even though different values) as long as you stay on Earth. Number changes but meaning doesn't.



My biggest issue with comparing energy and momentum and such for firearms is the concept of conservation of energy. Essentially when a bullet strikes a target the collision is either inelastic or partially inelastic. A bullet that passes through a target retains much of its energy and only deposits a little in the target. Deposited energy causes deformation of the target (wound channels). A bullet that enters and stays in the target (fully inelastic) deposits all energy in the target.

All things being equal (expansion, shot placement, etc), a 357 Mag that passes through a target and deposits half its energy is not really any more effective than a 38 Special that deposits all of its energy in the target.
 

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In other words, power factor is the same as momentum since mass and weight are essentially interchangeable (even though different values) as long as you stay on Earth. Number changes but meaning doesn't.



My biggest issue with comparing energy and momentum and such for firearms is the concept of conservation of energy. Essentially when a bullet strikes a target the collision is either inelastic or partially inelastic. A bullet that passes through a target retains much of its energy and only deposits a little in the target. Deposited energy causes deformation of the target (wound channels). A bullet that enters and stays in the target (fully inelastic) deposits all energy in the target.

All things being equal (expansion, shot placement, etc), a 357 Mag that passes through a target and deposits half its energy is not really any more effective than a 38 Special that deposits all of its energy in the target.
Momentum is the characteristic that an object in motion will stay in motion unless affected by some other force. Thus, penetration of a bullet. Sectional density in a defensive cartridge is roughly moot. However, momentum can calculate how much penetration you can expect.

Conservation of mass or energy is a law of physics that state that mass and energy cannot be created because the amount of matter and energy in the universe is static. Matter and energy can change states and move but can never be created or destroyed. You can Cindy matter to Energy or Energy to matter, but it is just changing. Energy just spreads out.

All that said, in a handgun cartridge, you would be in a tight spot trying to prove that the actual wound channel was anything more than the hole that the bullet literally pokes through you. Bullets travelling over 2000 fps are known to cause permanent wound channels larger than the bullet, but that isn't occurring in our handguns.

The method of incapacitation with a bullet is bleeding. You want a bigger bullet with a deeper hole. The only reason you would not want a bullet to come out the other side is that it might hit somebody that you don't want to hit. A bullet left inside is a plug that stops blood.

Hydrostatic shock is often debated. Essentially it is the effect that the energy of a bullet creates a shockwave in the body because we are basically water balloons and the shockwave more or less punches you in the brain. We can see from shootings that this is very far from being a guaranteed effect. Doctors have also suggested that it is a simple psychological effect. You get shot and in unconsciously decide to fall down. An object with ft-lb momentum of 50 hardly has enough energy to push you a couple inches and we have probably seen enough people get shot with 500ft-lbs+ of energy and keep going.

You want a big bullet, whether it starts big or expands and you want as much penetration as possible without hitting an innocent person behind the criminal you shoot. The momentum chart is a good indicator of penetration.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Walkingwolf, The FBI based their reports on several years of emergency room gun shot victim reports as well as autopsies. You can't get much more "real life" than that.

In a different thread, I stated "Stacking the odds in your favor is the best thing you can do. This means choosing a firearm with enough momentum to get the job done, using the proper holsters and ancillary equipment like a spare magazine or speed loader pouch, training with your equipment until reactions are automatic, and keeping your skills honed. If your equipment doesn't work for you, buy something that will. Don't risk your life or the life of a loved one because you got stubborn and didn't face reality."

I suspect the last sentence may apply to you.
 

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Walkingwolf, The FBI based their reports on several years of emergency room gun shot victim reports as well as autopsies. You can't get much more "real life" than that.
Did Walkingwolf's post get deleted? I don't see it.
 

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As always thanks for your expertise. I am fairly new to sport shooting, only about 7 yrs., so any time I can get info like this it goes into my "book". Will finally get to reloading this year and prefer to know as much as I can about all aspects of shooting, hunting & self-defense.

Deacon Bob
 

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