Target loads - light bullets or heavy bullets?

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Target loads - light bullets or heavy bullets?

Postby Morne » Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:05 am

Obviously, using a lighter bullet requires more powder while a heavier bullet requires less powder. So there's a trade off to be made.

For cowboy action loads I go with lightweight bullets (100-gr LRNFP for my .38 Specials) but that's because I'm trying to minimize recoil whether or not it is the most economical.

For everything else I use "typical" bullet weights. 230-gr for .45ACP, 240-gr for .44Mag (200-gr for .44Spl), 158-gr for .357Mag/.38Spl, etc.

How about everyone else? Anybody ever crunch the numbers on whether it is cheaper to buy heavier bullets and less powder or lighter bullets and more powder?
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Re: Target loads - light bullets or heavy bullets?

Postby Brian D. » Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:42 am

I for one don't see much difference price-wise between those options. I've never been averse to hunting a little for a deal on closeouts when time allows, that's part of how I shop for components. This goes back to pre-internet days with the old "Shotgun News" publication. One source I grew very fond of was Natchez Shooters Supply, every so often they'd run killer sale prices on whatever bullets or powder they seemed to have too much of.
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Re: Target loads - light bullets or heavy bullets?

Postby MyWifeSaidYes » Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:11 am

Morne wrote:Obviously, using a lighter bullet requires more powder while a heavier bullet requires less powder...


I dispute the "Obviously" part of this sentence. :wink:

The basic (and intermediate) physics involved takes this out of the realm of common knowledge.


Have you tried your hand at making your own bullets?
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Re: Target loads - light bullets or heavy bullets?

Postby sparky43040 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:25 pm

I used to reload ALL my ammo...always practiced with my standard carry loads for same results on paper or BGs!

Shooting the same load all the time at whatever your target is will always get better results IMHO.

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Re: Target loads - light bullets or heavy bullets?

Postby Sevens » Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:51 pm

If you are talking typical handgun fodder (such as the ones you listed), the bullet is always by far the biggest expense. In theory, a heavier bullet "costs" more but in practice, it ends up being economy of scale, and whichever weight is most popular is what usually ended up being the best buy, especially when many bullet makers compete with each other.

Powder is just -super- cheap. The slower burners, magnum loads, heavy charge weight and high-brow Finnish powders :wink: make for the most expensive powder charges... but still ends up being cheaper than the bullet.

In a low or medium pressure case like .38 or .44 Special, using a lighter bullet exacerbates the already too-roomy space. I would imagine especially .45 Colt works better with 250gr LFP than with 200gr slugs.

And if you are talking target loads... I would also stick to heavier weights rather than light. In .38 for example, the best target bullet is the 148gr hollow base swaged wadcutter and it's on the heavy-for-caliber end.
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