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Thread: Question: When Does a Pistol Caliber Become a Rifle Caliber?

  1. #11
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    The users of these two weapons aren't likely to care about bullet weights and muzzle velocities.

    A 300 Blackout SBR is a rifle firing a rifle cartridge. If rifle calibers are allowed at the range, then they're fine. If they're not allowed, then this rifle isn't allowed.

    A 10mm Auto carbine is firing a pistol cartridge. If pistol caliber carbines are allowed at the range, then they're fine. If they aren't allowed, then the rifle isn't allowed.


    The easy answer is that if a cartridge was initially developed for use in a handgun, then it's a pistol caliber. If the cartridge was initially developed for use in a rifle or carbine, then it's a rifle caliber. There's little to benefit by making this more complicated than it needs to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grizzman View Post
    The users of these two weapons aren't likely to care about bullet weights and muzzle velocities.

    A 300 Blackout SBR is a rifle firing a rifle cartridge. If rifle calibers are allowed at the range, then they're fine. If they're not allowed, then this rifle isn't allowed.

    A 10mm Auto carbine is firing a pistol cartridge. If pistol caliber carbines are allowed at the range, then they're fine. If they aren't allowed, then the rifle isn't allowed.

    The easy answer is that if a cartridge was initially developed for use in a handgun, then it's a pistol caliber. If the cartridge was initially developed for use in a rifle or carbine, then it's a rifle caliber. There's little to benefit by making this more complicated than it needs to be.
    So if you were serving as the range master at a pistol caliber-only range, and you had one shooter firing a 208gr 300 BLK projectile traveling at 915 fps (387 ft-lbs muzzle energy) and you had another firing a 60gr 10mm projectile traveling at ~2793 fps (1039 ft-lbs muzzle energy), you would kick the first guy off the range because he was firing a cartridge "initially developed for use in a rifle" but you'd be OK with the second because he was firing a cartridge "initially developed for use in a handgun"?
    "The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."
    William Francis Butler

  3. #13
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    Yes.

    Does the guy shooting the 300 Blackout have a chronograph with him to show that his ammo really is travelling at that velocity? Is he going to disassemble all his ammo to show that it's loaded with the same bullets and amount of the same powder as the round that he chrono'd for you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by grizzman View Post
    Yes.

    Does the guy shooting the 300 Blackout have a chronograph with him to show that his ammo really is travelling at that velocity? Is he going to disassemble all his ammo to show that it's loaded with the same bullets and amount of the same powder as the round that he chrono'd for you?
    That's a fair point. I was talking in the abstract (i.e. how do I explain pistols vs. rifles to non-shooters?), but you're right: it's difficult to enforce such categorical distinctions in the real world.
    Last edited by butlers; 03-22-19 at 15:05.
    "The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."
    William Francis Butler

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    Quote Originally Posted by butlers View Post
    That's a fair point. I was talking in the abstract (i.e. how do I explain pistols vs. rifles to non-shooters?), but you're right: it's difficult to enforce such categorical distinctions in the real world.
    How would you know they were shooting 60gr projectiles out of their 10mm carbine? Thats such an uncommon bullet weight how often would you really see that in the real world. There are exceptions to everything. What if some guy started shooting 7.62 SLAP out of his .308 at your steel targets? I mean how uncommon do you want to go here?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vicious_cb View Post
    How would you know they were shooting 60gr projectiles out of their 10mm carbine? Thats such an uncommon bullet weight how often would you really see that in the real world. There are exceptions to everything. What if some guy started shooting 7.62 SLAP out of his .308 at your steel targets? I mean how uncommon do you want to go here?
    OK, I think we're getting off topic (my fault).

    My hypothetical was designed to show the limitations of traditional definitions. When 300 BLK rifles shoot larger bullets going relatively slowly (like pistols) and 10mm pistols shoot small bullets going very fast (like rifles), the line between the two gets blurred.

    So for someone who tries to educate his non-shooting friends on the subject, my original questions still stand: is there a commonly accepted muzzle energy cutoff that defines rifle vs. pistol? Or is there a minimum fps standard? The answer thus far seems to be "no" to both.
    "The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."
    William Francis Butler

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    As was mentioned in a previous post, the change to "rifle-like" performance for .30 caliber projectiles is 1900fps or so. A number of years ago I asked and Doc said that the M1 Carbine did, in fact, cause "rifle-like wounds". I did not think to ask at what distance it lost this property. He also said that a .44Mag shot from a lever-action carbine causes rifle-like wounds.

    My understanding is that it is the size of the temporary cavity that makes the difference, so the effective frontal area and the velocity both enter into the equation. Damage is done if the tissue is stretched too far. I used the term "effective frontal area" because if a fmj or solid bullet yaws 90 degrees, it is traveling side-on to the tissue, so the "effective frontal area" is the side profile of the bullet. This adds the complication that for a particular caliber, a long, round-nosed fmj bullet that doesn't yaw will produce less damage than one that does yaw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by butlers View Post

    So for someone who tries to educate his non-shooting friends on the subject, my original questions still stand: is there a commonly accepted muzzle energy cutoff that defines rifle vs. pistol? Or is there a minimum fps standard? The answer thus far seems to be "no" to both.
    Really simple: Rifle ammo comes in 20 round boxes while pistol ammo comes in 50 round boxes. Last time I was at the range two guys where trying to pour every ounce of knowledge on a new female shooter... she left early... Remember KISS with new shooters.

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    I found a quote from DocGKR in a 2011 post:
    ".44 Mag is a caliber that is in the transitional range between service caliber handgun loads with minimal stretch effects and rifle calibers with substantial TC damage, as in some cases .44 Mag generates a sufficiently large temporary cavity to damage susceptible inelastic tissues. Hopefully you have read: https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19930. As noted, my .44 Mag general purpose load of choice is the Hornady 300 gr XTP. Another transitional caliber where TC is beginning to be a significant mechanism of wounding is the .30 Carbine when using good quality expanding ammunition like the Barnes 110 gr XPB, Rem 110 gr JSP, and Speer 110 gr Gold Dot."

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    9x25 Dillon gets 2000-2200fps with 80-90gr bullets from 5-6in barrels: https://www.underwoodammo.com/collec...18785701691449 & http://www.doubletapammo.net/index.p...product_id=626. If you reload you can push them faster. And you can use the Lehigh Xtreme Defender 65gr bullet to go faster still, over 2500fps from a 6in barrel.

    You can convert a Glock G29 to 9x25 with just a barrel swap (or any 10mm pistol really, the G29 and G20 just have the cheapest barrels). Very easy to CCW a pistol that would have true "rifle" wounding with the right loads in 9x25 Dillon (and less recoil than 10mm too). I think this is a pretty big jump in terminal performance for pistols with a pretty low relative overall cost involved.
    Last edited by Potss; 08-03-19 at 21:03.

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