Odin on Bullet Weight vs Bullet Speed

I say this often: real world experience has borne this out time and time again – the pitter-patter of small arms fire is all well and good. Music to my ears. Freedom in action. An armed population is a Free population.

The NATO 5.56×45, the AK 7.62×39. Perhaps an occasional .308. We’ve all heard them, on and off the battlefield.

But when the big boys such as the 50-cals open up all heads get down….

You feel it in your guts.

The intensely loud sonic boom smacks everything in it’s path. Instinct raps your brain – if you get hit by that shit it’s all over for you.

Even if you get home, you’ll be in pieces.

Poor Man’s 50 Cal ™

I carry an Elephant Gun as my Scout Rifle.

I call it “The Poor Man’s 50-cal™“. I can carry and fire it all day.

It’s loud. It’s powerful. It knocks down 7-ton bull elephants.

Just saying.

About Bullet Weight vs. Speed

Because the size of the cartridge case for any particular rifle is pretty much set in stone, there is a trade-off between the amount of gun powder that can be put into a cartridge and the amount of lead bullet (or copper, etc) that can be put into the cartridge.

What this boils down to is:

  • heavier bullets mean less powder. This translates to a heavier bullet going more slowly when it has been fired.
  • Lighter bullets mean more powder. This translates to a lighter bullet going more quickly when it has been fired.

There are advantages to each.

Faster lighter Bullets

Faster bullets hit their mark more quickly. This means that they have less time to fall toward the earth after firing due to the effects of gravity.

Therefore faster bullets are more “straight shooting” than slower bullets. At any distance, they drop fewer inches from the point of aim.

Upon striking something, faster bullets break up more quickly than slower bullets. When the bullet strikes something it will expand more readily and penetrate less deeply.

Slower Heavier Bullets

Slower bullets hit their mark more slowly. This means they have more time to fall toward the earth after firing due to the effects of gravity.

Therefore slower bullets are less “straight shooting” than faster bullets. At any distance, they drop more inches from the point of aim.

Upon striking something, slower bullets break up less quickly than faster bullets. When the bullet strikes something it will keep its shape and penetrate more deeply.

Odin’s Take on Bullet Weight vs Bullet Speed

There are advantages and disadvantages to lighter faster bullets as well as advantages and disadvantages to heavier slower bullets. With everything in between.

Of this there is no doubt.

Here is Odin’s take on bullet weight as it pertains to Gungnir, his .375 H&H Magnum Sako Kodiak stainless steel rifle in the mountains and forests of the Great North Woods:

  1. Almost always I operate in what can be called dense jungle and mountainous conditions.
  2. Sight distance is very limited. 50-yard shots are often long shots in the thick brush and forest.
  3. There may be an occasional 300+ yard shot, from a ledge, down a road, or over an open field but not often.
  4. Anything beyond that range is problematic and likely not worth attempting due to missed shots and dangers of giving away position etc.
  5. Targets will likely have thick brush to contend with or be behind a large tree as cover.
  6. Targets are fleeting – you are lucky to get one quick shot, that’s it. Then they are in cover and concealment.
  7. Targets may be wearing body armor.
  8. Targets may be engine blocks
  9. Targets may be behind concrete blocks, bullet resistant glass or other barriers
  11. An elephant rifle fires a very powerful round no matter what the bullet weight and speed.

These factors taken into consideration, above all else I want…..


Penetration, Penetration, Penetration

I see you through the thick brush? I want to fire a round that has the mass to go through it without changing course.

Wearing body armor? This round thumps you hard with any type bullet it hits you with. The more it pushes the armor into you – and perhaps goes through – the worse your day is.

Behind a large hardwood tree? Doesn’t matter, the round goes right through it and delivers wood splinter shrapnel as a bonus.

Bullet resistant glass, engine blocks, cement blocks, sand bags etc and etc? I want penetration and more penetration.

What about Distance and Bullet Drop?

At the distances I tend to shoot, ALL bullet weights tend to land in about the same place.

A couple inches higher or lower does not materially matter all that much when smacked by a 300 grain round going something like 2500 feet per second with more than 4000 foot pounds of energy

(NATO 5.56×45 comparison = about 1300 foot pounds).

Chances are I am not performing surgical bullet placement. I will likely be firing quickly, from an unsupported position in non-ideal conditions.

All I want is a center of mass shot. Eight inches plus or minus will do the trick. If this thing hits you, you are out of action. You’re going down.

If you are lucky you are going home. In pieces.

Hunting Meat vs Hunting Freedom

All this said, if I were hunting animals for meat, the .375 H&H Magnum being superb for moose and black bear in my area, and even for whitetail deer – I would opt for a lighter faster softpoint in order to transfer as much energy as possible into a kill shot.

Gunning Heavy

For creatures I merely need to put out of action and, as a bonus, cause to reflect on the error of their ways, I carry cartridges with big heavy bullets that have outstanding penetration.

Grievous wounding is their best case scenario and anything more than that puts them out of their misery.

True varmint rounds for varmints, indeed.

Odin has spoken.

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