How To Choose The Right Bullet Weight For Your Weapon?

Right Bullet Weight

When it comes to guns, there are all kinds of different bullets or rounds on the market. The rounds can differ in size in mm, how much charge the round has, to the weight of the round.

In this article, we will look at the latter and talk about how to pick the right bullet weight for your purposes. The key to bullet weight is picking the one that suits your purposes.

After reading this article, you will better understand finding the right weight bullet for the job that you are using the bullet for.

How Is Bullet Weight Measured?

Before we can get into the specifics of bullet weight, we must first consider how bullet weight is measured. Bullet weight is measured with a term called grains. One pound is equal to 7000 thousand grains.

This unit came when they used crops to compare measurements and is equivalent to a single grain of wheat or barley, hence the name grain. An ounce is equal to 437.5 grains to give you an idea of that scale.

One confusion regarding bullet weight comes about because the powder charge is also measured in grains, but this number has nothing to do with the weight of the bullet.

Different powders can have different weights, even if it is the same number of grains, so when choosing bullet weight, you want to ensure you are looking at the correct number.

Luckily most manufacturers don’t put the weight of the charge on the box, so if you are reading the box trying to find the weight of the rounds, it is most likely the bullet weight.

Weight Options

There are all kinds of different bullet weight options for each size of the round. Normally the size of the round is given in mm, so 9mm or 10mm are handgun rounds, but they have different weights available.

The common bullet weights available are  115, 124, and 147, but you also might see 95, 110, or some other amount. One thing is that different rounds have different common weights.

The bigger the round is in diameter wise, the heavier the round will be compared to a smaller diameter round. Also, if the weight of the round is not on the box, you can normally find the information you need online with a fast search.

How Can Weights Differ For The Same Size Round?

So, you may be wondering how the same size round can have different bullet weights. Well, there are a few ways this can happen.

One, since the round is the same diameter, the heavier bullet is longer than the lighter bullet. This may not always be the case, though.

For example, sometimes, the heavier round is made with a heavier metal than the lighter round, and if that is the case, then both rounds would be the same length.

Different metals, powder, or longer rounds are the main ways that two bullets of the same size can have different weights.

What Does Weight Affect?

So, now that you understand what bullet weight is and how it is measured, we can start getting into what it affects.

The things it affects will help you determine the weight you need for your uses. There are three main things that the bullet weight can affect. Those three things are accuracy, recoil, and penetration.


Accuracy is affected because lighter and heavier bullets exit the gun’s barrel differently. Assuming the charge and everything inside the bullet is the same, except the weight, the heavier bullet will take a bit longer to leave the gun.

This means the gun will start to recoil a little more before the bullet is out. That means the heavier bullet will hit the target slightly higher than the lighter bullet.

The accuracy can also be affected due to the different lengths of the bullet, which has already been mentioned.

The Recoil Of The Gun

The gun’s recoil is the next thing that is affected by the weight of the bullet. Recoil is when the end of the gun goes up after you fire, and the gun kicks back some into your shoulder if it is a rifle or into your hand, if it is a handgun.

Most of the time, a heavier bullet will create more recoil than a lighter bullet. This is because more force is needed behind the bullet to get it going.

This isn’t always the case, though. Some light bullets have a lot of charge in them and may produce just as much recoil as a heavy round.


The last thing that is affected by bullet weight is penetration and tied into that is expansion. Penetration is how deep the bullet goes into the target, and expansion is how much the bullet spreads out after being fired.

For self-defense, you want penetration of around 12 inches but no more than 18 inches. This way, you hurt who you want and not others around you.

Generally, the heavier the round, the more penetration it will have assumed that the heavier round and lighter round have the same charge and same metal. This is because the heavier one will have more kinetic energy.

This isn’t always the case, though, because if the lighter round has more charge or is made from a stronger metal, then it might penetrate deeper.

Also, barrel length can affect penetration and expansion. If the barrel is too short, it may not allow the bullet to come out at full force, but if it is too long, the bullet may expand too much while in the barrel.

These are the main things bullet weight affects, but there is no set way bullet weight affects these things because there are so many other factors.

For example, the material the bullet is made of, and its charge affect just as much as the bullet’s weight.

What Round For Hunting?

Now you know what bullet weight does, we can get into the different types of weight you should use for different purposes.

For example, for hunting, you want a bullet that will penetrate and bring the animal you are hunting down. Depending on the animal, the weight you will need to do varies.

You might be able to get by with a light bullet for a small game, but for most hunting, you will most likely need at least a medium weight round. You will need a heavy round for bigger games with thick hides.


For self-defense, you will again want a round that will penetrate. Humans tend to have thinner skin than most animals, though, and you will be a lot closer normally, so a lighter round might work, but a medium-weight round is more likely to be right.

You don’t want too heavy of a round that it over-penetrates, and you hurt others around. You also want a more accurate round than hunting because your life depends on it.

Target Shooting

You want an accurate round for target shooting that hits where you are aiming. The round does not need to penetrate a lot because targets are thin and made to be shot. So, with target shooting, an accurate light round is fine.

Finding a cheap one is the key to picking out a good round for target shooting. Normally when target shooting, you are firing many rounds, and you don’t need them to be expensive.

What Bullet Weight Is Right For You?

So, what bullet weight is right for you? The key to finding the right bullet weight is knowing your purposes and looking for a round that will provide the things most needed.

Then, once you have a round that you think meets your requirements, practice with it and make sure it works well with your gun. Some guns fire specific weights better than others.

You want to find the weight that provides the best accuracy, least recoil, and penetration for your purpose with your gun.

However, even the same weight round from manufacturers may fire differently from your weapon. Therefore, you need to go to the range and practice with different weights until you find the one right.


Now you know what bullet weight is and also what it affects. Depending on your purpose, you also have an idea of what to look for in a round.

The only way to determine if you truly have the right bullet weight is to practice it with your gun. It is important to practice, so you know how the round will fire when you are in a situation to perform.

This means you can’t practice with a lightweight all the time target shooting and then carry a heavier weight. It won’t fire it the same.

Many factors affect how different rounds fire, and one of those is bullet weight. So now you know why it is important to understand bullet weight.

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