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Old March 13, 2008, 09:36 AM   #1
The Shooting Cat
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Are you struggling with light or heavy bullets ?

I'm an Italian IPSC shooter, production class, using a CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow 9x21 IMI handgun.

Here in my Country, people are (still) struggling and debating a lot regarding what bullet produces the lighter recoil. The debate is mainly between those who think that light bullets (122 to 125 gr) used with fast powders are the preferred ones, vs folks who claim to have less recoil with medium-weight bullets (say 135 gr) and a slower (intermediate) powders.

I was curious to ask this question here to some US shooters, with the preference for those taking part in USPSA / IPSC competions. I was wondering if you folks in the US have reached a more or less general consensus for one or the other recipe, or if you also are very much debating around it.

Thanks!

TSC
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Old March 13, 2008, 10:09 AM   #2
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This is one of those topics that IMO, could benefit from posting in more than one forum. In here you have a lot of people with the technical know-how to add an informed opinion. (sorry, I'm not one of them!)

In one of the handgun forums (General forum, general handgun or semi-auto forum) there is a heckuva lot more traffic and some of the bright minds may really be able to help, and a lot more people will see the question. There will also be a lot more worthless replies, too, where someone will just tell you to go buy a Glock, even if you are asking about the firing pin on a '73 Winchester.

I'd say that you should try and pose the same question in the other forums, too. And I wish you luck in finding some answers!
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Old March 13, 2008, 10:48 AM   #3
The Shooting Cat
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Hi,

thank-you for your suggestion. I was unsure about the forum rules, and whether I could have opened the same 3ad in more than a forum. You're giving a good suggestion, let me open it up one in some other areas.

Thanks.

TSC
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Old March 13, 2008, 11:33 AM   #4
TexasSeaRay
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Howdy,

Couple of the best handgun shooters we ever came across was during a joint NATO exercise in North Africa. I met a couple of Italian Navy guys who were our counterparts in the U.S. Navy. They carried Berettas (naturally) with NATO spec ammo and were downright scary as far as how fast and accurate they could shoot.

Learned a lot from them.

As far as IPSC, back when I was shooting a lot in the sport, I had three primary weapons--S&W Model 686 (revolver class), a Glock 17L (minor class) and a modified Colt 1911 (major class).

Revolver load was a 158 gr lead round nose bullet in front of 4.1 grains of Winchester 231 powder with a Winchester Small Pistol primer. This kep me solidly in the minor class for revolver, but back then, you didn't see any major loads for revolver. Only reason power factor (minor versus major) mattered was for scoring when we'd shoot against the semi-auto race guns.

9mm load was a 124 grain lead round nose in front of 4.0 grains of Accurate Arms #2, with a modified recoil spring package on the Glock 17L. This was about as wimpy a load as we could manage and still get the bullets out of the barrel. Accuracy was so-so, but as you know, accuracy is a distant second to speed and style in IPSC.

My 45 load was a 185 grain lead SWC, and I can't recall what the powder charge was. Wanting to say something like 4.0 of W231, but please don't quote me or hold that to me. All I recall is that it barely, barely met "major" and it always helped when you shot your rounds through the chronograph to make sure you had the wind at your back.

Recoil was not a factor with any of the loads. In the semi-autos, we reduced recoil more with compensators, porting and springs than we did with bullets and powder loads.

Jeff
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Old March 13, 2008, 05:32 PM   #5
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I don't shoot much 9, but the people I know who do, seem to prefer the heavier bullet (147gr) for minor power factor. For Major use in Open, I think most people were using lighter bullets in .38 Super (115gr), and I don't know if that's changed, since Americans have started switching to Major 9.
I shoot mostly .45, and prefer 200gr bullets. I know some who prefer 230gr, and even some who have used 250gr, but I don't believe that the "soft" recoil of the heavy, slow bullet results in better scores. Most people shooting major are using bullets in the middle of the typical weight range - 200gr in .45, 180gr in .40 - while minor is going heavy. I've shot a bit of .38 Super at minor, and like 130s and 135s @1000fps, but don't have experience with lighter or heavier bullets.
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Old March 13, 2008, 05:33 PM   #6
Jim Watson
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I prefer the heavy bullet at subsonic velocity.
My standard IDPA SSP (Similar to IPSC Production gun requirements) loading is a 147 grain Hornady full metal jacket boattail bullet and 3.7 grains of Hodgdon HP38 for 887 fps in my Sig-Sauer P226, power factor 130. The felt recoil TO ME is less than a lighter bullet at high velocity.

A 124 grain bullet at 1050 fps for the same power factor is not uncomfortable, I think because it is still subsonic and does not have a loud report to emphasize the recoil.

I only shoot 115 grain bullets at 1135+ fps when I can buy ammunition very cheap.
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Old March 13, 2008, 09:48 PM   #7
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Think physics. A heavy bullet will have more recoil than a lighter one. The load has a fair bit to do with it too, of course.
Using a heavier spring will lessen the felt recoil. Wolf Springs will do international orders. CZ 75 recoil springs are listed under EAA Witness pistols. http://www.gunsprings.com/1ndex.html
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Old March 14, 2008, 04:11 AM   #8
The Shooting Cat
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Hi,

thanks folks for the suggestions and thoughts.
T. O'Heir I didn't want to change the recoil spring with a havier one (I actually have changed it with a softer one.. for target loads) what I mean is that I wanted to understand what recipe would create less recoil, without modifying anything on the gun, to alleviate it.

Thanks btw for sharing your experience.

TSC
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Old March 14, 2008, 04:19 AM   #9
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Hello folks,

thank-you for your replies and suggestions. It looks like that people here approach it by using heavy bullets rather than light ones. Now it's time for me to experiment following your advices. Thanks.

TSC
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Old March 14, 2008, 07:36 AM   #10
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Actual recoil depends on Bullet Weight, Gun Weight, Powder Weight and Muzzle Velocity. It's easy to calculate.

Perceived recoil is an individual thing. It can't be quantified because two people won't feel the recoil exactly the same way. Muzzle blast can figure into perceived recoil, even when wearing hearing protection. Slow/Fast powders also give different feels to the recoil.

No debating about actual recoil, it can be measured, but as to a debate about about perceived recoil (which is what the real debate is), there is no right (or wrong) answer.

DC
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Old March 14, 2008, 07:40 AM   #11
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Most of the shooters that I know prefer heavy bullets with fast powder. The 9X19 load with the least amount of perceived recoil that I know of is 3.1grains of VV310 and a Berry’s 147 grain. In open you want lighter bullets and much slower powders.
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Old March 14, 2008, 07:44 AM   #12
The Shooting Cat
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DC,

what you say does of course make sense. I agree with that. And I'm beginning realizing the what really matters is the feeling. So we may have an actual soft recoil, but perceive it as a stronger one, or vice versa..

However - and that's why it is so hard for me to handle the mater - does the perception matters so much, to modify accuracy for example.

Let me explain. Pretend the following scenario:

- A cartd. is hanloaded, to achieve soft recoil
- The shot produces _actually_ a soft recoil, at least softer then average, say.
- The shooter perceives the recoil as stronger than normal

QUESTION: does the accuracy get impacted ? What is the impact of the perception on the performance ? In other words:

are we all sure that the "perception" is more important than the facts ?

Sorry for asking so much.

TSC
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Old March 14, 2008, 07:52 AM   #13
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jmorris, thanks for your inputs. What I read here is that you folks seem quite generally agreeing to the recipe of heavy bullet and fast powder. In my Country, we haven't many people bringing forward an idea like that.

I believe this is due to the general concern about pressures going rapidly up (and up to a dangerous level) by using heavy bullets and fast powders.

I have Quickload installed on my PC here and I'd like to see what the (estimated!) pressure would be for a light-recoil recipe that you'd suggest. I'll run some tests maybe later today.

Thx!

TSC
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Old March 14, 2008, 08:21 AM   #14
.45 COLT
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I can't answer that question. What I can do is give an example, although it is with shotgunning, not pistol shooting.

When I was heavy into Trapshooting, maybe 10 rounds (250 shots) or more a day, I started out with a Red Dot load. I changed over to a Green Dot load, same MV, same shot load, more powder. It had an actual recoil slightly higher than the Red Dot, patterned the same. I felt that I was getting pounded less with the Green Dot load and my higher scores bore out that perception.

What a person thinks can become reality, if only in his mind. If he thinks that he's going to feel a heavy recoil, a flinch may be a result. Same with muzzle blast - I knew a certain .357 load I once used would nearly blow the hearing protection off my ears. I didn't shoot it well as a result, even though recoil was fairly light.

DC
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Old March 14, 2008, 08:47 AM   #15
The Shooting Cat
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Interesting, indeed. This to me means that a shooter should put efforts into becoming a good shooter. What I intend with good shooter, is a person who is able to feel the reality of facts. So if the actual recoil is lighter than another, a good shooter should be able to tell; and he should be able to feel like this.

So at the end the equation would become

actual lighter recoil => perceived lighter recoil => better performance.

In other words, I'm growing the idea that it's the average shooter imperfect feeling, that creates much debate around the topic.

Thanks to inputs like yours, I really enjoy this 3ad.

Thx

TSC
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Old March 16, 2008, 10:36 AM   #16
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The 3.1gr of VV310/147gr (avg 908 fps) is a relatively high pressure load, it’s just very “soft” shooting. The pressures are much lower that any of my loads for “major” 9X19, Xgr of HS-7/115gr (avg 1475 fps). The load develops enough pressure that I use rifle primers to inhibit primer flow.
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Old May 29, 2009, 12:17 PM   #17
The Shooting Cat
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Dear all, I'm posting this in both the "hand loading" and "competition" sections.

I'm writing you all to request/solicit contribution from US based guys who have experience/knowledge/know-how/ around the "real recoil" vs "perceived recoil" with light and heavy bullets in the 9mm caliber handguns.

What we are trying to do
We're trying to give a reasonable reply to the question "is it better to shoot light or heavy bullets" in IPSC, with 9mm minor power factor ? We know how difficult it is to give a reply to such question, and we know that it brings with it many aspects, some of them "easy" to explain using math, some others less easy. In particular, one area we want to focus is: is the real recoil exactly what the math says ?

How do we do that
We have a specially modified version of a handgun rest, equipped with laser collimator, shock absorbers and transducers, connected with sensors to a PC recording several impulse and time-based events, etc..
We also have the specific math formulas to compare to..

Why we do that
Because this topic is still a very debatable one for us and we also are fascinated by what can be discovered with practical tests vs what the math is telling us. We will make the tests and the results published on an Italian guns magazine, and the topic will be further discussed on our web based forum.

Why we are looking for contribution
Because we believe that in the US, other people may have already studied and tried a lot around this topic and 1- we don't want to re-invent the wheel 2-We may leverage the work already done 3- we like contribution and teamwork from other Countries on a common topic

The reason why we ask specifically US folks is not to limit participation. It is just because in my previous discussions in web forums on the web, I met US guys who had the required know-how and I identified them as potential contributors. Also the US is quite wide and the experience from the US should be already wide enough to provide what we look for. Participation from other Countries as a second possibility is certainly welcome.

What's in for you ?
Certainly, NOT money.. We won't get anything either for what we do. Except the fact that we'll all be working on a common (hopefully) interesting topic, and that potentially everyone will learn something. Also, if you've never done that, working on a multi-Country project is exciting. If you already tried "the taste" you know what I mean. You'll have the chance to share your knowledge and hopefully we'll share ours.

What we're looking for
The perfect contributor should have experience with 9mm semi-auto handguns and have used handgun rests. Should be enough math-literate to handle the math behind handgun recoil. Should have experience with hand loading the 9mm at CIP, SAAMI, normal, +P, and/or +P+ pressures, with light and heavy bullets.
Should have Interest in what we do open mind and accept different opinions, doubts, questions and things to do
Should have already performed tests aimed to measuring real and/or felt recoil along the lines of our tests.

Should understand that English and its US variant is not our language and so expect mistakes and misspelling

We hope to receive your "applications" soon and hopefully start working together.

Thanks for reading this long post.

Andrea.
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Old May 29, 2009, 12:18 PM   #18
The Shooting Cat
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Dear all, I'm posting this in both the "hand loading" and "competition" sections.

I'm writing you all to request/solicit contribution from US based guys who have experience/knowledge/know-how/ around the "real recoil" vs "perceived recoil" with light and heavy bullets in the 9mm caliber handguns.

What we are trying to do
We're trying to give a reasonable reply to the question "is it better to shoot light or heavy bullets" in IPSC, with 9mm minor power factor ? We know how difficult it is to give a reply to such question, and we know that it brings with it many aspects, some of them "easy" to explain using math, some others less easy. In particular, one area we want to focus is: is the real recoil exactly what the math says ?

How do we do that
We have a specially modified version of a handgun rest, equipped with laser collimator, shock absorbers and transducers, connected with sensors to a PC recording several impulse and time-based events, etc..
We also have the specific math formulas to compare to..

Why we do that
Because this topic is still a very debatable one for us and we also are fascinated by what can be discovered with practical tests vs what the math is telling us. We will make the tests and the results published on an Italian guns magazine, and the topic will be further discussed on our web based forum.

Why we are looking for contribution
Because we believe that in the US, other people may have already studied and tried a lot around this topic and 1- we don't want to re-invent the wheel 2-We may leverage the work already done 3- we like contribution and teamwork from other Countries on a common topic

The reason why we ask specifically US folks is not to limit participation. It is just because in my previous discussions in web forums on the web, I met US guys who had the required know-how and I identified them as potential contributors. Also the US is quite wide and the experience from the US should be already wide enough to provide what we look for. Participation from other Countries as a second possibility is certainly welcome.

What's in for you ?
Certainly, NOT money.. We won't get anything either for what we do. Except the fact that we'll all be working on a common (hopefully) interesting topic, and that potentially everyone will learn something. Also, if you've never done that, working on a multi-Country project is exciting. If you already tried "the taste" you know what I mean. You'll have the chance to share your knowledge and hopefully we'll share ours.

What we're looking for
The perfect contributor should have experience with 9mm semi-auto handguns and have used handgun rests. Should be enough math-literate to handle the math behind handgun recoil. Should have experience with hand loading the 9mm at CIP, SAAMI, normal, +P, and/or +P+ pressures, with light and heavy bullets.
Should have Interest in what we do open mind and accept different opinions, doubts, questions and things to do
Should have already performed tests aimed to measuring real and/or felt recoil along the lines of our tests.

Should understand that English and its US variant is not our language and so expect mistakes and misspelling

We hope to receive your "applications" soon and hopefully start working together.

Thanks for reading this long post.

Andrea.
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Old May 30, 2009, 09:48 PM   #19
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Looks like an old thread resurrected.

Calculating a number for recoil may not provide the best experience. If you are competing, what does the timer say? What gives best score (time and points)?

I do not shoot production. However, in a 45 making major PF, large bullets (230gr) with small amounts of fast powders and a relatively light recoil spring give recoil which is a push. The smaller mass of powder means less jetting (or whatever you call it) and less felt recoil. The light spring is important; a heavy spring will snap the slide forward harder and make it harder to get back on target. However, what feels right for one shooter may not be right for another.

A great place for this question is Brian Enos forums.

Lee
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Old June 1, 2009, 05:11 AM   #20
The Shooting Cat
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Hi,

good idea I will post it there as well. I still would love to see participation from TFL users anyway.

Thx

AG
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