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noahmercy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 13, 2015
Messages
280
Location
Sheridan, WY
Disclaimer: the following is my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it.

Whenever I watch a video where someone tests cartridges, muzzleloaders, or bows, there is invariably a reference to "energy" or "foot pounds". I understand that it's impressive to some, but I am apparently in the minority who feel it is an almost worthless number that rarely- if ever- reflects the effectiveness of a cartridge.

Allow me to expand on this. The formula for determining the energy of a bullet is:
E = (M x V²) ÷ 450,435 : E = energy, M = mass (weight) of the object in grains, and V= velocity in feet-per-second (FPS).

Since velocity is squared, it has a great effect on the result. For example a factory Remington 22-250 load with 55 grain bullet at 3,680 FPS has over 1,650 foot pounds (lb/ft) of muzzle energy. A factory Remington 45-70 cartridge with a 405 grain bullet at 1,330 FPS has less energy at 1,590 lb/ft. So if we went solely by energy figures, a varmint cartridge has more "power" than a buffalo cartridge. Yet if I'm fishing in Alaska, I know which one I'll choose.

"Well that's just absurd!", someone says. "Obviously that isn't a fair comparison. What about if someone is testing 45 ACP? Isn't the load with more power going to be more effective than the one with less? Isn't it a useful tool for situations like that?"

Many moons ago, a guy had a jacket swager and made up some 45 Auto bullets with balsa wood cores. Velocities were upwards of 2,000 FPS, and with the weight of the bullets, that put the energy figures well over 500 lb/ft. Impressive, right? Welllll, penetration was almost nonexistent, and they were horridly inaccurate, so effectively useless for anything but the experiment itself.

"Okay, wiseass, that's an extreme situation with a radical projectile. What about the same weight and style bullets? The faster/ more powerful one is going to be better."

Ever see tests with PMC Bronze hollowpoints? Regularly outperformed by the same cartridge launching bullets of identical weight at lower speeds/power. And it's not just the PMCs. There are many inexpensive designs that are just bad at any speed or power level, while some bullets do well even at modest velocity/energy. Good designs don't require blistering speeds to perform reliably, and some bullets perform poorly when driven too fast.

"Yeah, but there are optimal weight charts for game animals based on the power of a cartridge. You're not unethical enough to tell me they're bogus!"

I think our forefathers would argue that their anemic (by today's standards) muzzleloaders shooting dead-soft lead spheres did just fine on game animals. Millions of deer, elk, and moose were killed with guns generating less energy at 50 yards than a 357 Mag at the muzzle, and not one of those optimal game weight charts would claim that little energy was acceptable on anything bigger than an anorexic whitetail. And of course millions of the largest land animals in North America were virtually wiped out with "wimpy" cartridges like the 45-70, 45-90, and 50-90 that were less powerful than the lowly 6.5mm Creedmoor! How many animals were killed with 25-20, 32-20, 38-40, 44-40, and other "underpowered" black powder cartridges?

So energy is not the be-all, end-all that some think it to be. Bullet diameter, sectional density, and construction matter more than velocity. Simply put; if a bullet does not reach the vitals and damage them sufficiently when it gets there, it is ineffective, regardless of how many foot-pounds it's packing. 😉
 
Last edited:

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
21,433
Location
Lake Lure NC USA
Some people want to believe just one form of science., And using "energy" as a basis for their claims & beliefs,, they fail to take into account "other factors" that affect performance.
In science,, it's called a "variable."
And there are a LOT of variables in shooting an animal.
I guess they use the "energy" argument as a way to sound intelligent.

I like showing these same people how my "underpowered" handgun can & will kill big animals cleanly & with one shot.
 

noahmercy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 13, 2015
Messages
280
Location
Sheridan, WY
You’re making the traditional archery argument of momentum versus KE...

Right? Plenty of animals killed with self-bows and even hand-thrown spears with puny velocity/energy numbers. Don't need 400+ FPS to kill game, although it does make range estimation errors less important for those who are married to technology and don't shoot instinctively.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
11,297
Location
Kentucky
So energy is not the be-all, end-all that some think it to be. Bullet diameter, sectional density, and construction matter more than velocity. Simply put; if a bullet does not reach the vitals and damage them sufficiently when it gets there, it is ineffective, regardless of how many foot-pounds it's packing. 😉
. . . pointing out that bullet placement is of major importance. ;)
 

GunnyGene

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 23, 2013
Messages
6,774
Location
Monroe County, MS
Along a similar vein today, I was standing in the check out line juggling 4 boxes of CCI .22wmr and a bottle of bourbon in my hands. A lady ahead of me noticed the ammo and asked what it was. I showed her the label on one of the boxes, and she said (expressing some mild wonderment): "those are a lot longer than the .22 bullets I have", (spreading her thumb & fore finger to indicate a lr length cartridge). "It's .22 magnum"; I replied, "for a rifle I have and is somewhat more powerful than your .22long rifle". Which seemed to satisfy her, so I didn't pursue any educational opportunities regarding the mathematics of ballistics, and it was her turn at the register. :)
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2004
Messages
6,256
Disclaimer: the following is my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it.

Whenever I watch a video where someone tests cartridges, muzzleloaders, or bows, there is invariably a reference to "energy" or "foot pounds". I understand that it's impressive to some, but I am apparently in the minority who feel it is an almost worthless number that rarely- if ever- reflects the effectiveness of a cartridge.

Allow me to expand on this. The formula for determining the energy of a bullet is:
E = (M x V²) ÷ 450,435 : E = energy, M = mass (weight) of the object in grains, and V= velocity in feet-per-second (FPS).

Since velocity is squared, it has a great effect on the result. For example a factory Remington 22-250 load with 55 grain bullet at 3,680 FPS has over 1,650 foot pounds (lb/ft) of muzzle energy. A factory Remington 45-70 cartridge with a 405 grain bullet at 1,330 FPS has less energy at 1,590 lb/ft. So if we went solely by energy figures, a varmint cartridge has more "power" than a buffalo cartridge. Yet if I'm fishing in Alaska, I know which one I'll choose.

"Well that's just absurd!", someone says. "Obviously that isn't a fair comparison. What about if someone is testing 45 ACP? Isn't the load with more power going to be more effective than the one with less? Isn't it a useful tool for situations like that?"

Many moons ago, a guy had a jacket swager and made up some 45 Auto bullets with balsa wood cores. Velocities were upwards of 2,000 FPS, and with the weight of the bullets, that put the energy figures well over 500 lb/ft. Impressive, right? Welllll, penetration was almost nonexistent, and they were horridly inaccurate, so effectively useless for anything but the experiment itself.

"Okay, wiseass, that's an extreme situation with a radical projectile. What about the same weight and style bullets? The faster/ more powerful one is going to be better."

Ever see tests with PMC Bronze hollowpoints? Regularly outperformed by the same cartridge launching bullets of identical weight at lower speeds/power. And it's not just the PMCs. There are many inexpensive designs that are just bad at any speed or power level, while some bullets do well even at modest velocity/energy. Good designs don't require blistering speeds to perform reliably, and some bullets perform poorly when driven too fast.

"Yeah, but there are optimal weight charts for game animals based on the power of a cartridge. You're not unethical enough to tell me they're bogus!"

I think our forefathers would argue that their anemic (by today's standards) muzzleloaders shooting dead-soft lead spheres did just fine on game animals. Millions of deer, elk, and moose were killed with guns generating less energy at 50 yards than a 357 Mag at the muzzle, and not one of those optimal game weight charts would claim that little energy was acceptable on anything bigger than an anorexic whitetail. And of course millions of the largest land animals in North America were virtually wiped out with "wimpy" cartridges like the 45-70, 45-90, and 50-90 that were less powerful than the lowly 6.5mm Creedmoor! How many animals were killed with 25-20, 32-20, 38-40, 44-40, and other "underpowered" black powder cartridges?

So energy is not the be-all, end-all that some think it to be. Bullet diameter, sectional density, and construction matter more than velocity. Simply put; if a bullet does not reach the vitals and damage them sufficiently when it gets there, it is ineffective, regardless of how many foot-pounds it's packing. 😉
OK Professor, you've totally lost me. I just shoot em' and see where they end up.
 

eveled

Hunter
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
4,051
I have always contended that one should put down the charts and shoot the guns into different mediums and at varying ranges. Too much emphasis is directed at performance charts.

Bob Wright
I agree shooting paper only shows accuracy not about damage and energy transfer.
 

GunnyGene

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 23, 2013
Messages
6,774
Location
Monroe County, MS
Wait, what?! You can buy bullets AND bourbon in the same store? Almost makes me wanna move to Mississippi.

This is the local AF Base Exchange, so yes. And guns, clothing, electronics, etc. Kind of a mini Walmart but with gun stuff and a booze section. Better quality merch than Walmart also.
 

Mobuck

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
7,337
Location
missouri
OK, you're putting way too much into this. Once upon a time terminal performance literally depended on bullet diameter and the capability of the bullet to reach the target. This changed with the development of expanding bullets so a different way to comparing bullet lethality(?) had to be found. In the process, velocity became a factor as scientific comparison between slow, fat, non-expanding bullets were compared to skinny, sleek, faster moving bullets.
Quick analogy: How do you feel about the 'new' determination that our Constitution was written with included racial connotations? Well, the old timers used what was readily available to them at the time(probably skewed by their ideas of promoting the new whizzbang cartridges) to compare old tech vs new tech.
Complain, second guess, re-think all you want but in the long run with all the new tech bullets, those muzzle energy figures are only relevant where states place a threshold on what's suitable(legal) to hunt certain species. Common sense and field knowledge is just as important as it ever was.
 

JStacy

Blackhawk
Joined
May 6, 2016
Messages
503
Location
south Texas
. . . pointing out that bullet placement is of major importance. ;)
I have always considered bullet placement of the prime importance in the effect. If you place a lower powered round precisely you get a dead animal. The kinetic energy formula is driven by velocity and high velocity , above 2200 FPS tends to "boil" the water in the tissues and create a larger temporary wound cavity. If the cavity is not deep enough all of your energy is wasted on the surface. The most effective man stopper round, per FBI statistics, is a 357Mag 125 HP going more than 1250 FPS. Why? It has a balance of penetration and expansion causing a larger temporary wound cavity , in humans. That load would only enrage a brown bear bent on doing you harm. Loads must be tailored to the intended target to be effective. Penetration is important or the load will not do the intended purpose. So you have velocity, to enhance the temporary wound cavity, bullet diameter, also increases size of temporary wound cavity, penetration to reach vital organs and shot placement to make all of the other factory work well . Shooting involves practice to achieve the above factors. So all of the elements combined cannot be given you by the internet or you tube you must practice to keep your skill level up or everything else is a moot point. My .02 worth.
 

kcsteve

Bearcat
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
80
Disclaimer: the following is my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it.

Whenever I watch a video where someone tests cartridges, muzzleloaders, or bows, there is invariably a reference to "energy" or "foot pounds". I understand that it's impressive to some, but I am apparently in the minority who feel it is an almost worthless number that rarely- if ever- reflects the effectiveness of a cartridge.

Allow me to expand on this. The formula for determining the energy of a bullet is:
E = (M x V²) ÷ 450,435 : E = energy, M = mass (weight) of the object in grains, and V= velocity in feet-per-second (FPS).

Since velocity is squared, it has a great effect on the result. For example a factory Remington 22-250 load with 55 grain bullet at 3,680 FPS has over 1,650 foot pounds (lb/ft) of muzzle energy. A factory Remington 45-70 cartridge with a 405 grain bullet at 1,330 FPS has less energy at 1,590 lb/ft. So if we went solely by energy figures, a varmint cartridge has more "power" than a buffalo cartridge. Yet if I'm fishing in Alaska, I know which one I'll choose.

"Well that's just absurd!", someone says. "Obviously that isn't a fair comparison. What about if someone is testing 45 ACP? Isn't the load with more power going to be more effective than the one with less? Isn't it a useful tool for situations like that?"

Many moons ago, a guy had a jacket swager and made up some 45 Auto bullets with balsa wood cores. Velocities were upwards of 2,000 FPS, and with the weight of the bullets, that put the energy figures well over 500 lb/ft. Impressive, right? Welllll, penetration was almost nonexistent, and they were horridly inaccurate, so effectively useless for anything but the experiment itself.

"Okay, wiseass, that's an extreme situation with a radical projectile. What about the same weight and style bullets? The faster/ more powerful one is going to be better."

Ever see tests with PMC Bronze hollowpoints? Regularly outperformed by the same cartridge launching bullets of identical weight at lower speeds/power. And it's not just the PMCs. There are many inexpensive designs that are just bad at any speed or power level, while some bullets do well even at modest velocity/energy. Good designs don't require blistering speeds to perform reliably, and some bullets perform poorly when driven too fast.

"Yeah, but there are optimal weight charts for game animals based on the power of a cartridge. You're not unethical enough to tell me they're bogus!"

I think our forefathers would argue that their anemic (by today's standards) muzzleloaders shooting dead-soft lead spheres did just fine on game animals. Millions of deer, elk, and moose were killed with guns generating less energy at 50 yards than a 357 Mag at the muzzle, and not one of those optimal game weight charts would claim that little energy was acceptable on anything bigger than an anorexic whitetail. And of course millions of the largest land animals in North America were virtually wiped out with "wimpy" cartridges like the 45-70, 45-90, and 50-90 that were less powerful than the lowly 6.5mm Creedmoor! How many animals were killed with 25-20, 32-20, 38-40, 44-40, and other "underpowered" black powder cartridges?

So energy is not the be-all, end-all that some think it to be. Bullet diameter, sectional density, and construction matter more than velocity. Simply put; if a bullet does not reach the vitals and damage them sufficiently when it gets there, it is ineffective, regardless of how many foot-pounds it's packing. 😉
Energy of a bullet is nothing more than a mathematical way of showing a difference between a 100 grain bullet and a 200 grain bullet traveling the same velocity.
The velocity can be measured. Energy is a mathematical way of comparing bullets when velocity or the weight of the bullet is changed.
 

outlaw_dogboy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 2, 2005
Messages
122
Location
Maryland, USA
Disclaimer: the following is my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it.

Whenever I watch a video where someone tests cartridges, muzzleloaders, or bows, there is invariably a reference to "energy" or "foot pounds". I understand that it's impressive to some, but I am apparently in the minority who feel it is an almost worthless number that rarely- if ever- reflects the effectiveness of a cartridge.

Allow me to expand on this. The formula for determining the energy of a bullet is:
E = (M x V²) ÷ 450,435 : E = energy, M = mass (weight) of the object in grains, and V= velocity in feet-per-second (FPS).

Since velocity is squared, it has a great effect on the result. For example a factory Remington 22-250 load with 55 grain bullet at 3,680 FPS has over 1,650 foot pounds (lb/ft) of muzzle energy. A factory Remington 45-70 cartridge with a 405 grain bullet at 1,330 FPS has less energy at 1,590 lb/ft. So if we went solely by energy figures, a varmint cartridge has more "power" than a buffalo cartridge. Yet if I'm fishing in Alaska, I know which one I'll choose.

"Well that's just absurd!", someone says. "Obviously that isn't a fair comparison. What about if someone is testing 45 ACP? Isn't the load with more power going to be more effective than the one with less? Isn't it a useful tool for situations like that?"

Many moons ago, a guy had a jacket swager and made up some 45 Auto bullets with balsa wood cores. Velocities were upwards of 2,000 FPS, and with the weight of the bullets, that put the energy figures well over 500 lb/ft. Impressive, right? Welllll, penetration was almost nonexistent, and they were horridly inaccurate, so effectively useless for anything but the experiment itself.

"Okay, wiseass, that's an extreme situation with a radical projectile. What about the same weight and style bullets? The faster/ more powerful one is going to be better."

Ever see tests with PMC Bronze hollowpoints? Regularly outperformed by the same cartridge launching bullets of identical weight at lower speeds/power. And it's not just the PMCs. There are many inexpensive designs that are just bad at any speed or power level, while some bullets do well even at modest velocity/energy. Good designs don't require blistering speeds to perform reliably, and some bullets perform poorly when driven too fast.

"Yeah, but there are optimal weight charts for game animals based on the power of a cartridge. You're not unethical enough to tell me they're bogus!"

I think our forefathers would argue that their anemic (by today's standards) muzzleloaders shooting dead-soft lead spheres did just fine on game animals. Millions of deer, elk, and moose were killed with guns generating less energy at 50 yards than a 357 Mag at the muzzle, and not one of those optimal game weight charts would claim that little energy was acceptable on anything bigger than an anorexic whitetail. And of course millions of the largest land animals in North America were virtually wiped out with "wimpy" cartridges like the 45-70, 45-90, and 50-90 that were less powerful than the lowly 6.5mm Creedmoor! How many animals were killed with 25-20, 32-20, 38-40, 44-40, and other "underpowered" black powder cartridges?

So energy is not the be-all, end-all that some think it to be. Bullet diameter, sectional density, and construction matter more than velocity. Simply put; if a bullet does not reach the vitals and damage them sufficiently when it gets there, it is ineffective, regardless of how many foot-pounds it's packing. 😉
Not to be contrary in any sense, but I just recently read an article that noted Eskimos have been known to kill polar bears with 22LR. It wasn't recommended, but it has been done. I'll try to dig that up.

I think it was provided as proof that penetration and shot placement are the most important factors in killing.
 

Mobuck

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
7,337
Location
missouri
" Eskimos have been known to kill polar bears with 22LR."
Keep in mind that simply 'killing' an animal takes a distant second place to killing an animal ethically and quickly while facilitating recovery. "Native" hunters getting a single 22 rimfire bullet deep enough into a bear to achieve a blood trail might be all that's needed in an area of solid snow cover for miles. They might also run that bear down with dog teams or snow machines. Darned few 'modern' hunters have sufficient tracking skills to follow up an animal that doesn't fall within a few seconds.
 

kmoore

Buckeye
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
1,158
Location
Idaho
Well Mobuck beat me to part of my answer. Yes our grand parents were killing big game with cartridges far less of some today. They also mainly had iron sights. Unless we learn details of those hunts, I am guessing many were taken into possession after a short or even long trailing.
Back to energy ft lbs. I have always understood it as just a number that can show some differences, but is never the final word, maybe just a guide.
Here is an example of made up Ft. Lbs numbers just to ask two questions: I fire a bullet into an elk, the charts say it had 3,000ft lbs of energy at the distance of that elk. #1 the bullet passes through, how do we measure the real ft. lbs of energy the elk took, was it 1500 ft lbs ? who knows, does it even matter.. #2 The same distance, the bullet does not exit the elk, did the elk take all the 3,000 ft lbs of energy? In both cases the elk turned and dropped dead.
I once though up of a test: Make a target 1,000 lbs and put it on wheels. Make it so the bullet will be stopped in that target. If the bullet had more than 1,000 ft lbs of energy would it move the target backwards. If not how many ft lbs would it take?
 

gunzo

Buckeye
Joined
Sep 8, 2010
Messages
1,603
Location
Kentucky
All are rulers, something to measure with or compare; pounds foot energy, TKOF, IPSC power factor. A guide line.

Extremely high B.C. bullets & modern superior bullet construction has changed the game. New ways to look at the big picture for sure.
 

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