When talking about ammo, what does the grain number mean?
also what is a good ammo brand for a s&w 686 .357 mag?, are any brands better than others?
ANY small unit of material, whether it be medicine, gun powder, chemicals, or flour can all be weighed in grain units.
In firearms terminology, reloading of ammunition in particular, bullet and powder charge weights are measured in grain units. Any reloading scale for measuring powder charges and bullet weights are accurate to .1 (1/10th) of a grain, which means a scale can divide 1 gram 150 ways! (Which is the main reason dope dealers bastardize these tools in their poison trade.)
In grain units, a 220 grain bullet weighs almost exactly 1/2 ounce.
This exacting accuracy must be maintained because different formulas of smokeless gun powder have different burning rates, and the fastest burning powders usually have the lightest charge rates, sometimes as light as less than 5, and sometimes 2 or 3 grains, such as Bullseye powder, which is why Metric units aren't used. The denser the powder, the heavier the charge required. Some Ball and Tubular powder formulas for Magnum pistol and rifle cartridges start at around 20 grains and go up from there.
Black powder is also measured in this unit. For example, the Sharps rifle of Tom Selleck's "Quimby Down Under" was chambered for a .45-120 Sharps cartridge, which utilized a .45 paper-patched bullet of around 300 grain weight, loaded over a 120 grain charge of black powder, hence the designation.
As to a choice of ammo for your .357, this is as wide and varied as one's choice of weapons. ANY and ALL factory loads are good, one must try an assortment and choose one for yourself. Remington, Winchester, Federal, CCI, UMC, and Hornady are just some of the more popular. Each manufacturer and all loadings are good choices.
A 180 grain bullet "only" weighs 0.0257 pounds
When it comes to ammo you get what you pay for. A more expensive ammunition should be "better" than a cheaper one.
It's hard to get better than Hornady, Black Hills, or Corbon. (it's also hard to get more expensive.)
For plinking and shooting for fun though the cheap ammo should far fine. Just beware of corrosive ammo, such as old military surplus. With a .357 I wouldn't imagine this would be common.
Personally I do not have a S&W 686 so I could not tell you what ammo is best for it. Buy several varieties, shoot them, and measure the groups. Different guns work better with different ammunitions.
First, the term "grain" refers to the weight of either the powder charge or the projectile. 1 grain is equal to 1/7000 of a pound.
Second, a good brand of ammo for your revolver. Actually, your revolver will tell you what is the best brand. Not all firearms (even the same make and model) will shoot the same ammo equally. You should purchase a good variety of the brands of ammo available in your area, and shoot each for group to see what your handgun shoots best!
More grains of powder, translates into more bullet velocity and power - and also more recoil.
A heavier grain bullet is generally slower (unless the powder charge is increased as well) than a light bullet, but has more energy when it hits its target. Some guns shoot better with different weight bullets, due to the twist of the barrel and other factors.
For .357 magnum ammuntion, it depends what you are looking for - if you want cheap plinking ammunition, consider the factory remanufactured ammo in your local shop or a brand like Remington UMC (Union Metallic Cartridge). You may also consider .38 Special rounds, because they are cheaper, and you can safely use them in your .357 S&W 686.
For defence, any quality ammuntion will do - Cor-Bon, Hydra-Shock (Federal), Golden-Saber (Remington), and other quality hollow-points will be effective. Glazer makes "Safety slugs" that are made to break-up and not over-penetrate the target, or walls if you miss.
volume of powder not weight
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