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Old 04-09-2009, 08:57 PM   #1
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white_russian2 .22
What is the definition of 'grain'?

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On the advice of a well respected moderator, I was asked to pose this question.

Is the grain of a bullet the weight of the gunpowder load or the weight of the bullet?

I admit, although very familiar with firearms, that I've been learning the nuances of the handgun sport. Here's my perspective:

1. To me grain indicates the amount of gunpowder in the shell.
2. I read some posts about sighting in a P1 (mine shoots 2"-3" at a 45 degree angle to the upper right, his was the exact opposite) and one of the responses was to "increase the grain so it would shoot higher".
3. The reply was "So if I shoot a heavier bullet it will shoot higher?"
4. Common sense tells me that if I have a heavier projectile with the same amount of load it would shoot lower, and with less distance/accuracy.

So..........what's the difference/truth? I've got a Midway catalog that sells scales. It makes NO sense to me that you'd weigh your projectile but a ton of sense that says weigh your powder.

Sorry if this is a sophmoric question but a guy just HAS to know

Thanks in advance - Craig
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Old 04-10-2009, 09:33 AM   #2
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WWhunter .22
It is used for both powder and bullet weight.
Grain is a unit of measurement in weight.
A cartridge can have 5 grains of powder propelling a 230 grain bullet. I am using a .45acp for an example. So, you can see that it is used for both.

If I remember correctly there are 7,000 grains of powder to a pound.
CHeck out this link and scoll down to page 5.

http://ts.nist.gov/WeightsAndMeasure...402_appenc.pdf

WW
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Old 04-10-2009, 02:53 PM   #3
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white_russian2 .22
Thanks for the reply BUT........

now I'm more confused. I understand that grain is a measure of weight. Here's a real world example of my question:
1. I have a box of WWB 9mm 115 grain ammo (dislike the stuff!)
2. I have a box of Winchester Ranger 9mm NATO 124 grain ammo (Love it)

On the Ranger box it states "Pressure levels exceed industry standards". In the fine print on the back of the box it states"....These cartridges are loaded to military velocity and pressure that is 10% higher than industry standard for 9mm lugers"

Common sense tells me that unless the projectile occupies more of the barrel then the only way to increase "velocity and pressure" is to increase the amount of powder. Except for the primers the shells look and feel identical to me.

Help appreciated!

Craig
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Old 04-10-2009, 08:00 PM   #4
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Some folks are having trouble finding this thread, so let's move it and see if it finds a wider audience ...
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Old 04-10-2009, 10:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by white_russian2 View Post
now I'm more confused. I understand that grain is a measure of weight. Here's a real world example of my question:
1. I have a box of WWB 9mm 115 grain ammo (dislike the stuff!)
2. I have a box of Winchester Ranger 9mm NATO 124 grain ammo (Love it)

On the Ranger box it states "Pressure levels exceed industry standards". In the fine print on the back of the box it states"....These cartridges are loaded to military velocity and pressure that is 10% higher than industry standard for 9mm lugers"

Common sense tells me that unless the projectile occupies more of the barrel then the only way to increase "velocity and pressure" is to increase the amount of powder. Except for the primers the shells look and feel identical to me.

Help appreciated!

Craig

Just curious....does the box show the term +P or is +P anywhere on the cartridge base? I'm pretty sure that some NATO ammo is loaded to hotter velocities. Submachinegun ammo is usually loaded hotter. That's what got the Navy SEALs in trouble with the Beretta M9 pistols. They used 9MM submachinegun ammo and it was so powerful it blew the slides back and off the gun. This gave rise to the saying "you ain't a Navy SEAL till you've tasted Italian steel".

Anyway, you can also change the velocity/pressure by using faster or slower burning powder.
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Old 04-10-2009, 10:56 PM   #6
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WR2: I'm curious as to why you don't like 115-gr Winchester White Box. It is generally considered by the P.38 crowd (which includes fans and regular shooters of the P1, the P4, and the P5) as the best range ammo on the market, especially given the price. What's the beef, as it were?
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:23 PM   #7
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The way I see it you should never have trouble differentiating between the weight of the bullet and the weight of the powder. ie: you can't have a 5 grain bullet with 95 grains of powder.

Lets say you look at a box of factory Magtech FMJ .380 Auto. The box will always say the grain of the bullet. It doesn't say the powder content of the cartridge on the box.

Now if you get into the dynamics and the ballistics, it can be a little confusing. A quick look at any reloading handbook will tell you that.

Ball powder and wafer powder burn at different rates and will give you different ballistics. If you look at a reloading manual, you will see that for the same grain bullet (95gr.) the amount of Unique powder and the amount of Win 231 powder are different. I think a .5 grain difference. This is because the different powders burn at different rates and have different pressure gradients.

Then, you will find that for a heavier bullet(115gr which is the max for .380 Auto), the amount of powder needed for the same velocity as a 95gr actually goes down. This is because the pressure caused by the heavier bullet creates around the same velocity with less powder. Think thermodynamics and velocity/pressure/volume/temperature stuff.

The ballistics stuff was confusing to me too, until my dad who is a reloading guru sat me down and explained things to me.
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:34 PM   #8
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affinityofmist .22
I forgot to add that once the bullet actually leaves the barrel it is a whole different animal. The dynamics that a bullet sees in the barrel cannot even come close to the dynamics it sees when it exits. You are right, a heavier bullet will always drop faster if it is moving at the same velocity as a light bullet. The results are small at pistol accuracy(15-25 yards), but easily provable with a simple physics calculation.
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:58 PM   #9
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white_russian2 .22
Wink Many thanks for all the replies!!!!

I've been offline for a couple days so excuse the potentially lengthy response. It's obvious I have a lot to learn

Quote:
Just curious....does the box show the term +P or is +P anywhere on the cartridge base? I'm pretty sure that some NATO ammo is loaded to hotter velocities. Submachinegun ammo is usually loaded hotter. That's what got the Navy SEALs in trouble with the Beretta M9 pistols.
No, not that I can tell. My old eyes can barely read the fine print on the box. However, whatever ammo the SEALs are using is good enough for me. Those 3 shots at the Somalia pirates in 2' seas gives me GREAT respect.

Quote:
WR2: I'm curious as to why you don't like 115-gr Winchester White Box. It is generally considered by the P.38 crowd (which includes fans and regular shooters of the P1, the P4, and the P5) as the best range ammo on the market, especially given the price. What's the beef, as it were?
Bear in mind I have more than just Walthers. Please don't flame me, but my HP C9 hates the WWB, the Walther P1 "tolerates" it. However, both love the Blazer Brass and Win Ranger, it's just impossible to find the Blazer. My HP .380 will shoot anything. I just can't wait for the Walther PK380 to come out!!

Quote:
This is because the different powders burn at different rates and have different pressure gradients
Quote:
The ballistics stuff was confusing to me too, until my dad who is a reloading guru sat me down and explained things to me.
Great, just great, lol. Now I've got to figure out powder burn ratios. Math is NOT my strong suite, lol. Thanks for the rookie support!

So...given all this great feedback, unless I start reloading myself, is it safe to say that I just find what works for my pistols and move forward?

Cheers, thanks and regards,
Craig
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:05 PM   #10
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Interesting, indeed. I've always found that of all the ammo out there, the Winchester WB is the stuff that generally worked in everything. I can't think of a time when it didn't cycle in any gun I've owned ... except for a Beretta Tomcat, and NOTHING worked in that #&)(@#&# thing.

But the bottom line is yes, find the ammo that works best in your gun and then stick with it. I've found that (beyond Winchester WB, at least), not all of them like all brands or manufacturers of ammo. What works in my Interarms PPK might not work in yours at all; and what works in my German-made PPK won't work worth a hoot in my S&W-made gun. Can't explain it, but it seems to hold true for me, at least.

It's worth experimenting a bit until you find the one that cycles best, time after time. That's the one that's worth sticking with, today and down the road.
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