Cartridge Comparison Guide Ballistics Reference


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 3rd, 2011


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On a daily basis, I get questions from readers asking advice on the selection of a suitable weapon; either for hunting, target shooting, or self defense. Many times, I am asked to compare the power and recoil of various weapons. Much of the advice that I give is subjective, based upon my own experiences. Especially when it comes to recoil, I am not really a reliable source of information. I shoot almost every day, and many times I shoot weapons that have substantial recoil, and have become accustomed to the effects of heavy recoil. I still feel recoil, but it just doesn’t bother me that much. It is like after thirty years of marriage, you can still hear your wife yelling at you, but it does not have the same effect as it did years ago. You become jaded.

Another aspect of weapons of which I am asked my opinion is that of hunting cartridges. Certainly, given surgical bullet placement, a whitetail deer can be killed with the bullet from a 22 Long Rifle. However, that does not mean that the diminutive rimfire is a wise choice. Every year, thousands of hunters must make decisions upon which rifle to select as a hunting tool to take afield. They consider flight characteristics of the bullet, terminal effectiveness, and recoil. There have been reams of material written upon the subject of cartridge ballistics, but I have seen none that puts everything into one easy-to-understand book as does The Cartridge Comparison Guide shown here. There could not have been a more fitting title applied to this book, as it compares hundreds of cartridges in several different ways.

In The Cartridge Comparison Guide, one can compare different cartridges based upon caliber, bullet weight, bullet velocity, bullet energy, or recoil impulse. In comparing recoil, the author considers the weight of the weapon, and compares the recoil of various cartridges based upon different weapon weights, in both rifles and handguns. There is a chart to quickly determine the free energy of any given bullet weight at all practical velocities. Some states have game regulations that set a minimum of caliber, and comparing the various cartridges which meet that threshold is pretty easy to do. However, some states set a minimum of bullet energy, and The Cartridge Comparison Guide lists energy comparisons as well.

The Cartridge Comparison Guide is laid out in an easy-to-understand format so that even a novice to firearms can find the information needed. This is one of those books that will prove to be very useful to me, and will reside upon my desk, along with my other references, for as long as I keep pulling triggers. The Cartridge Comparison Guide is well-written, thoughtfully organized, and spiral-bound for years of easy use. It is available online from, and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a slight interest in cartridge ballistics. If you are more of the high-tech type, and prefer to use the computer, an online version is available for purchase as well.

Jeff Quinn

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