Even if you've only dabbled in energy investing up to this point, you are well aware of the massive volume of oil and natural gas being produced in the U.S. right now. Much of that production is made possible by the tiny grains of sand used to force open cracks in our nation's shale deposits, allowing the oil and gas trapped inside to escape to the surface.

It's a good business to be in, this sand production game, especially as demand for proppant is expected to climb in the coming years. It's largely why, for the last 12 months, no master limited partnership has posted a better performance than either Emerge Energy Services (NYSE:EMES) or Hi-Crush Partners LP (NYSE:HCLP), two leaders in the sand space. To see how these two players stack up head-to-head, check out the slideshow below.