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  #1  
Old 03-15-2019, 11:38 PM
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Default Question: When Does a Pistol Caliber Become a Rifle Caliber?

All,

As is often said, "pistols are pistols and rifles are rifles". But at what point does a pistol caliber become a rifle caliber?

Let's compare four self-defense loads:
Federal LE Tactical HST JHP
9mm Luger +P
124 gr
1200 fps
396 ft-lbs
https://www.luckygunner.com/9mm-p-12...st-1000-rounds

Federal LE Tactical HST JHP
.45 ACP
230 gr
950 fps
461 ft-lbs
https://www.luckygunner.com/45-acp-2...nt-1000-rounds

Federal LE Tactical SP
.223 Remington
55 gr
3220 fps
1266 ft-lbs
https://www.luckygunner.com/223-rem-...tru-500-rounds

Federal Fusion SP
7.62x39
123 gr
2350 fps
1508 ft-lbs
https://www.luckygunner.com/7-62x39m...sion-20-rounds
MUZZLE ENERGY --> LETHALITY

There's a clear difference in muzzle energy. The .223 bullet is less than half the size of the 9mm bullet, but because it's going nearly 3x as fast, it's going to be more lethal:


https://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Se...ense_Ammo_FAQ/

Is there a point at which a pistol caliber becomes a rifle caliber in terms of muzzle energy? Is there an accepted standard, e.g. "Any bullet that delivers more than 1000 foot-pounds energy is no longer a pistol caliber, but a rifle caliber"?

SPEED --> FRAGMENTATION

There's a clear difference in feet per second. It's been well-documented that misses from faster rifle bullets are less likely to pose a danger to others:

Quote:
"Statements are made that the shotgun or pistol should be used because of the over-penetration problem with 5.56 carbine ammunition. This could not be further from the truth. If you conduct a little research you will find that numerous law enforcement departments, to include the FBI, have proven this to be false in most cases. The fact of the matter is that many of these bullets will penetrate numerous walls, but standard 5.56 loadings are the least of your worries when compared to pistol and shotgun fodder, which continue to take top honors in the category of over-penetration." US Army Sergeant Major Lamb (former Delta/CAG)
https://www.americanrifleman.org/art...xperts-opinion

"Common pistol rounds easily penetrated all 4 walls spaced out at room distances. This is a critical issue. Think about the inside of your house and imagine if you shot through 4 walls. Could you hit a loved one? Know your target and what is behind it....The 5.56 rounds deviated greatly from the original flight path once they started tumbling. This occurred after the second wall." Old_Painless (certified Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Personal Firearms Defense, and Home Firearms Safety Instructor)
http://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-...sulated-walls/

"Proponents of the pistol for home defense like to think that because it’s 'just' a pistol round, overpenetration really won’t be an issue. Such is not the case. Drywall sheets and hollow-core doors (which are what you’ll find in the majority of homes and apartments in this country) offer almost no resistance to bullets....For years many people just assumed they knew what would happen to a rifle bullet fired indoors—it would go through every wall available and then exit the building. While armor-piercing and FMJ ammunition is specifically designed to do this, extensive testing has shown that light, extremely fast-moving .223 projectiles (including FMJs) often fragment when they hit a barrier as soft as thin plywood." James Tarr (former police officer; contributing editor for Guns and Ammo)
http://www.gunsandammo.com/ammo/long...fense-caliber/

"The .223/5.56 is moving at around 3,000 feet per second, and while it isn’t magic bullet, it’s a far cry better than any pistol round. Another advantage of the .223/5.56 is its limited penetration. The shape and velocity of the round cause it to immediately expend or dissipate its energy once it strikes something." Tiger McKee (adjunct instructor at Thunder Ranch)
https://gundigest.com/reviews/ar-15-...e-defense-guns

"The pistol rounds were seemingly unaffected by the drywall and/or wood barriers. There was no observable deviation or fragmentation of the 9mm projectiles. You’d be safe counting on a pistol round to keep going, and going, and going. After all, premium pistol ammunition is designed to expand, and lose energy, when striking liquid-based targets—not walls. The full metal jacket .223 rounds tended to tumble rather than break apart when they encountered barriers." Tom McHale (contributor at AmmoLand and OutdoorHub)
http://www.outdoorhub.com/stories/20...ration-issues/

"FBI and Independent Testing Has Consistently Shown .223/5.56 NATO Fired From AR-15’s Do Not Over Penetrate More Than Pistol/Shotgun." Caleb Lee (NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor)
http://preparedgunowners.com/2016/07...ation-testing/

"Since all of the 5.56 mm/.223 bullets fired through the interior wall had significantly less penetration than 9 mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 12 ga. shotgun projectiles which were fired through an interior wall, stray 5.56 mm/.223 bullets seem to offer a reduced risk of injuring innocent bystanders and an inherent reduced risk of civil litigation in situations where bullets miss their intended target and enter or exit structures. As such, 5.56mm/.223 caliber weapons may be safer to use in CQB situations and crowded urban environments than service caliber handguns or 12 ga. weapons." Dr. Gary Williams (ballistics expert)
http://www.recoilweb.com/ar-vs-shotg...#ixzz4zCOCPykZ
Those who subscribe to this principle believe that if you're concerned about overpenetration, the faster (and smaller) .223 is better for home defense than the slower (and bigger) 7.62x39 (and of course, better than even slower [and even bigger] pistol rounds).

Is there a point at which a pistol caliber starts to behave like a rifle caliber in terms of speed? Is there an accepted standard, e.g. "Any bullet that travels more than 2000 feet per second is no longer a pistol caliber, but a rifle caliber"?

Respectfully,
butlers
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2019, 12:43 AM
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Good post OP. This is a fascinating question that I admit I've never considered. I imagine that speed is only one factor. Bullet shape no doubt plays a role also.
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Old 03-16-2019, 1:03 AM
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Rifle vs. pistol caliber doesn't seem to tell us much other than the length of the barrel and possibly the action which was originally used with that particular cartridge.


How about the 460 magnum. It is a pistol caliber in name, but is loaded with large rifle magnum primers and very slow magnum pistol powder or medium rifle powders. I have chronoed 300 grain bullets at 1900+ fps from my pistol and factory ammo is rated at something like 2400 fps for a 240 grain bullet. It has the energy of a 30-06 full power load. It will put holes in 8-10" thick wood and blow out the back side.


9mm ammo fired through a 16" carbine has much better knock down force for steel targets than when fired from a 4" pistol.


What is likely more important is having a light weight bullet that won't push through structures like a freight train.
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Old 03-16-2019, 7:30 AM
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My understanding is that if the cartridge was initially designed to be used in a rifle then it's a rifle cartridge. I've never researched it so I don't know.
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Old 03-16-2019, 9:28 AM
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I have not heard of any accepted standard for when handgun calibers become equivalent to rifle calibers, but 357 magnum and 44 magnum rounds shot out of carbine length barrels do have muzzle energy in the same ballpark as some rifle rounds. According to data I found on various websites, the Hornady American Gunner 125 grain 357 magnum will have a velocity of 2000 fps and a muzzle energy of 1100 foot pounds when shot from a 16 inch barrel. That's about 85% of the muzzle energy of a .223 round. They probably don't offer the same "hydrostatic shock" effect, though, nor the range of a real rifle round. Deadly within 50 yards though, I would think.
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Old 03-16-2019, 9:33 AM
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When it's too long to chamber in a handgun? Oh wait a minute, , the Big Effing Revolver will chamber them. Huh, whatta ya know...
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Old 03-16-2019, 9:51 AM
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Here's a riddle.
When is a crouquet mallet like a billy club?
I'll tell you: Whenever you want it to be...
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:14 AM
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My Encore pistol shoots 300 Win Mag. So obviously 300 Win Mag is a pistol cartridge.
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Old 03-16-2019, 6:32 PM
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Has nothing to do with caliber. "Pistol caliber" is a misnomer. The reference is really about pistol and rifle cartridges.
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Old 03-16-2019, 7:15 PM
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It's what the cartridge designer decided what the cartridge was made to fit. Just about all the centerfire cartridges were originally designed to fit either either a rifle, pistol or shotgun. They were then designated for that particular firearm.
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Old 03-16-2019, 8:29 PM
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Default When Does a Pistol Caliber Become a Rifle Caliber?

I assume you mean cartridge not caliber ?

NEVER


Quote:

It's what the cartridge designer decided what the cartridge was made to fit.
What ever they were originally designed for is what they are . I've seen 308 and 300 WM TC contenders with pistol grip and 8" barrel . That does not make those cartridges hand gun cartridges .

If you did mean caliber then I'd have to say when the same diameter bullet is loaded in a rifle case .
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Last edited by Metal God; 03-16-2019 at 8:32 PM..
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:20 PM
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Playing devils advocate, youve prolly never seen a 300 WM TC Contender. That frame isnt strong enough for a belted magnum.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Playing devils advocate, youve prolly never seen a 300 WM TC Contender. That frame isnt strong enough for a belted magnum.
You might be right but I thought that's what this one guy said he had , I may have misunderstood him . Do they make a different TC that could handle it ? I know I've seen 308 because I was offered to shoot it and I declined . I did shoot his 223 , not as much recoil as I thought there would be .
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allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.

Anyone else find it sad that those who preach tolerance CAN'T allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that they do not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.

If you have the time check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04wyGK6k6HE or a picture of Mohamed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VwpwP_fIqY
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Old 03-17-2019, 9:05 AM
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Yes see my previous post.
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Old 03-17-2019, 9:56 AM
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Thanks , threads is not that long and yet I missed that post . Maybe that's what he was shooting . Either way our points seem to be the same to the OP .
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allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.

Anyone else find it sad that those who preach tolerance CAN'T allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that they do not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.

If you have the time check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04wyGK6k6HE or a picture of Mohamed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VwpwP_fIqY
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Old 03-17-2019, 12:08 PM
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When you put in a rifle...duh.
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Old 03-17-2019, 4:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metal God View Post
Thanks , threads is not that long and yet I missed that post . Maybe that's what he was shooting . Either way our points seem to be the same to the OP .
Yessir
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Old 03-17-2019, 5:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MongooseV8 View Post
Playing devils advocate, youve prolly never seen a 300 WM TC Contender. That frame isnt strong enough for a belted magnum.
But the TC Encore is , the same as a TC Contender , only stronger

357 MAX also comes to mind , rifle ballistics from a hand cannon. 218 Bee , have both , rifle and pistol , they shoot the same (makes pretty little holes in steel plates)
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Old 03-17-2019, 8:47 PM
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Lol yes I know please above =)
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Old 03-18-2019, 5:32 AM
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When the barrel is 13" or greater then the round shot from it is a rifle caliber.

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