Q re: loading defensive ammo


September 14, 2003, 01:40 AM
I have no problems making practice/ range/ IDPA ammo. My question now is figuring the right forumla for defensive ammo...Are there particular bulletheads that perform better? Powder that doesn't flash as much, primers that will work reliably everytime or anything else I need to consider?

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September 14, 2003, 02:15 AM
I don't use home rolled ammo for defensive purposes. It might get you into trouble in court if you blast someone.

September 14, 2003, 05:37 AM
" It might get you into trouble in court if you blast someone"

I've heard this before, but is it ture? I mean, if you were really justifyed in shooting the bad guy in the first place, who cares what kinda ammo you used?

September 14, 2003, 06:37 AM
I don't use home rolled because I've seen too many misfires, goof ups, etc. for comfort.

September 14, 2003, 09:56 AM
To get back to the question: What caliber are you thinking of loading?

Black Snowman
September 14, 2003, 05:21 PM
I let Federal do all the hard work for me and picked up their Premium Defense. Did I get raped on price? Yes, BUT I have ammo that I'm completely confident in without having to do a ton of experimentation.

If you want to roll your own I'd recommend comparing what is available as "defensive" ammo to what you have available to make your own with.

Personally I would go with Speer bullets of an appropriate type. That's personal preference based on their construction techniques and tested performance.

As for powders I've never seen a comparison on flash but I know Power Pistol and H110 makes really pretty fireballs and so you might want to avoid those.

Let us know what you settle on or if you find anything on the flash.

September 14, 2003, 06:45 PM
45 acp; I use 231, Winchester primers & 230 grain fmj's. I was thinking of making a 200 or 230 grain jhp loaded to a +p or +p+ but need to find the right formula/recipe :D
If liability is an issue (I live in the land of liability, CA :( ), I might be better sticking w/ factory ammo....decisions decisions :rolleyes:

Standing Wolf
September 14, 2003, 10:25 PM
It's my understanding no one's ever been taken to criminal or civil court for defending his life with home-rolled ammunition. I doubt there's anything like a shortage of assault lawyers who'd be glad to try to smear someone for "maliciously making the super-lethal bullets that killed my poor client's good child who fell in with bad company, but was trying to mend his ways," et cetera, et cetera, et-ad-nauseum-cetera, but ammunition is ammunition is ammunition. If you use over the counter components and standard reloading manual data, you'll end up with ammunition well within industry norms.

That said™, I carry factory ammunition because a.) it takes forever and a Sunday afternoon to work up the most accurate load for any given gun; b.) I have no way to test bullet performance—not even a chronograph, truth to tell—and c.) I've got to figure close enough is probably close enough in a snub-nosed .357 magnum revolver, anyway. If I had the time to invest and a way to test bullet performance, I probably would roll my own.

September 20, 2003, 05:55 AM
E-mail direct; include all pertinent info of tools and launch platform(s).

David Wile
September 20, 2003, 12:00 PM
Hey 10,

When you ask about "defensive" ammunition, the term "defensive" takes in a lot of territory and consideration.

For example, if you are talking about wanting to inflict as much tissue damage as possible on some dangerous animal (human or otherwise) that has a thin skin, then you would probably want to use a bullet designed for expansion such as a hollow point. A shotgun could also be a good choice here. However, if you are put in danger by someone wearing body armor or by a large animal with a thick hide, then you would probably want to consider a fully jacketed bullet. A hard cast big bore bullet such as a 45-70 can be very effective on big animals where deep penetration is desired.

The big difference between pistols and rifles is also significant. A great big 44 Mag is very poweful compared to other pistols, but its power is small when compared to an ordinary 30-30 rifle. Like the old saying, "Never take a knife to a gun fight.", you really would not want to go up against a rifle with a pistol.

Having said all that, let me back up a few steps. I am not suggesting that you should always be carrying a pistol, rifle, and a shotgun with you. You really need to evaluate your risk and be prepared accordingly.

As far as defending your use of your own ammunition in court, I wouldn't worry too much about that. If you have to go to court because of a shooting incident, the ammunition you use will not be a significant factor in the overall scheme of things.

And if you choose to not use your own ammunition because you have "too many misfires, goof ups, etc.", then you really should not be reloading any ammunition. If you cannot reload ammunition that is not only reliable, but also better than factory ammunition, then you are wasting your time. Reloading quality ammunition is not about making cheaper bullets as fast as possible. Reloading is a craft, and, if you practice that craft, you can build better ammunition than you can get off the shelf at the local gun store. Misfires? If you have any misfire, something is wrong with your process. The first box of ammunition I loaded was with a really slow Lee Loader, but I have never had a misfire in nearly forty years of reloading.

By all means, use your own ammunition for whatever "defensive" purposes you may have. You may have "defensive" ammunition in pistol, rifle, or shotgun. In any case, make it well and use it well.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Double Naught Spy
September 20, 2003, 04:17 PM
If you are in a self defense shooting where you had the right to defend yourself with lethal force, then it won't matter if you use a hammer or homemade ammo as far as criminal court goes.

The real concern is if you somehow manage to shoot somebody that was not somebody you were defending yourself against that then you may have some real legal issues. Of course, if you shoot somebody in that manner, you are going to have many legal problems.

Standing Wolf
September 20, 2003, 10:01 PM
If you cannot reload ammunition that is not only reliable, but also better than factory ammunition, then you are wasting your time.

I must respectfully disagree: it takes many novice reloaders a good many batches to get the hang of it all. There are lots of variables involved, lots of gadgets to be mastered, lots of tricks to be learned, and lots of opportunities to make mistakes.

Although I've never had a problem with hand load reliability, it took me a long time to realize that for pure accuracy in some of my .357 magnum revolvers, I had to drop below the suggested minimum loads. I knew a mechanically disinclined fellow some years ago who when through somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 primers before he got the hang of priming cartridge cases consistently—but he got it.

David Wile
September 20, 2003, 11:00 PM
Hey Standing Wolf,

I would suggest that making bad ammunition is more closely related to the attitude of the reloader than it is to the knowledge and experience of the reloader. All you have to do is read the numerous posts where the person relates how he does not have time to spend reloading and wants to spend his time shooting. That same person then usually goes on to tell anyone new to reloading that they should start right out with a progressive press so they don't have to waste time at the reloading bench. I suspect that folks with that type of attitude are the ones who are most likely to find they have misfires or double charges or whatever else can go wrong. When I read someone's post where they are bragging about being able to reload 500 or a 1,000 or more rounds per hour with their super dooper progressive press that they just bought last week, I just shake my head in wonder that someone can be that naive.

Over the years, I have started quite a few folks on the reloading path, and not one of them ever had problems with their ammunition. I would submit to you that the main reason for their success was their attitude toward reloading as a craft to be learned rather than a process to endure just so they could shoot more ammo at the range.

Bad ammunition is the end result of bad reloading by bad reloaders with bad attitudes. Yes, there are many variables, lots of tools, things to be learned, and opportunities to make mistakes in the reloading process. However, I would also submit that I can take a novice and show him how to safely reload a box of ammunition in an hour if he has the right attitude toward learning reloading as a craft. That type of person will get it right, will learn to recognize their limitations, and will know when they need learn more about a particular problem. Then there are the other folks who really cannot be bothered with the learning process involved in reloading as a craft. They just want to crank them out and get to the range. If some do not go bang, oh well, they can make more to shoot.

There is no excuse for bad ammunition. It does not take years of experience to make good ammunition. It just takes the right attitude and the willingness to devote the time necessary to do it properly.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

September 21, 2003, 12:07 AM
That's exactly what I do. Use .357 cases loaded to .38 specs for pure accuracy when paper punching.
10-ring, the best defense load is the one that shoots the most accurately in your pistol and you can shoot accurately. You can clearly handload with no problem. Just work up a load with 230 grain HP's that's not a target load(think higher velocities) and is the most accurate in your pistol. A load that won't go bang every time or won't hit the 'A' ring every time is useless. The same primer etc considerations for a good accurate IDPA load will be just fine for a "defensive" load. Your IDPA load will likely be fine as well. It's best to practice with the ammo you will use in your carry pistol.

September 24, 2003, 12:19 PM
I recommend the 230 gr. BJHP Golden Saber put out by Remington. It is readily available from Midway and is the same bullet Rem. uses in its factory ammo. Go to your current reloading manual and start working up and experimenting with loads using Unique. Move up toward the max load listed and stop when you have a load that feeds and ejects reliably and seems to have acceptable accuracy, for you. I like Winchester Large Pistol primers. If you do have a chrono, try for a load in the 850-900 fps range if you want a hot load, in the 800 range for something milder. Do follow a current guide! For brass, I like Remington, particularly the nickel plated +P variety. You can match your OAL to factory Rem. ammo. You want a snug, but not overly tight crimp. That should do it!

September 25, 2003, 05:51 AM
230g R-P Golden Saber, IMI case, Federal 150, 7.0g Alliant Power Pistol, crimp diameter .469", OAL 1.210"-1.235", based on YOUR gun.

Better be anal if you intend betting your life on them...............

Or you can try some 230g offerings from the fine folks at Pro Load, Cor-Bon, or BuffaloBore.

September 25, 2003, 11:07 AM
I don't use home rolled because I've seen too many misfires, goof ups, etc. for comfort.

I would suggest that making bad ammunition is more closely related to the attitude of the reloader than it is to the knowledge and experience of the reloader.

I've heard of a lot more KB's coming from factory ammo than reloads. You can be anal at the cash register or anal at the reloading bench.

The people who have difficulty reloading good ammo are the same people who when cooking with a recipe, skip, omit, or subsitute steps or ingrediants.

Reloads= Yep, time consuming. Expensive labor, no wondering.

Factory= Yep, expensive. Leaves you wondering.

Black Snowman
September 29, 2003, 04:39 PM

Interesting info on gunpowder including what's used for flash supressors. Unfortunately powder makers don't put "ingrediant lists" on the powder. Not only that there isn't enough interest for them to market "low flash" powders and there isn't any standardized way of expressing flash levels of the various powders for comparison.

If I could get a grant might make an intersting research project ;)

September 29, 2003, 08:31 PM
I load my own carry ammo. If you like, e-mail me and we can exchange ideas.

October 1, 2003, 05:01 AM
Me, too.

Gary H
August 10, 2005, 01:13 PM
Regarding the use of Power Pistol..

Certainly has the umph, but where do you go for the same velocity, but without the flash? When I think of defensive ammo, I think of dark places. When I think of bang with Power Pistol, I'm thinking that I might not need to load a bullet... I'll just blind the other guy.

August 10, 2005, 01:54 PM
Gary, what are you shooting (weapon not people wise)? I think that VV powders are the king of low flash.

VV powder is very clean and has little flash, the draw back is that it's expensive and it doesn't meter well.

August 10, 2005, 02:14 PM
I only read this thread to find out how long it would take for someone to say "if you use reloads for self-defense, you're headed for prison". I wasn't disappointed. :evil:

Gary H
August 10, 2005, 02:15 PM
My father is looking at purchasing the new Kahr in 45ACP. It has yet to be released. So it would be launching out of a short barrel, very light semi-auto. I also need to find JHP that will expand reliably at low velocities. I've seen some of the claims, but haven't seen any tests from a short barrel. He has been carrying a 2 1/2" five shot Lady Smith, so this should be a major upgrade in power. I was hoping to get a 230gr JHP running at 800fps. Low flash and a reasonable recoil profile would be great. If only pigs could fly. I suspect that I'll need to go to a 200gr load.

August 10, 2005, 02:22 PM
Git yourself either a .44 or a .357 and git some H110 powder. Hell, you won't be disappointed. lol

August 10, 2005, 03:29 PM
The kahr has a 3-3.5" barrel? I'd try a faster powder like Titegroup or n310. W231 would be another good choice but it has a very bright flash (it's small but bright) and it's coated in ridiculous amounts of graphite.

I always keep a handful of 44s loaded with w296 and heavy lubed cast bullets for payback when people shoot my targets at the range. If the blast doesn't scare em off the smoke does. :evil:

August 10, 2005, 04:25 PM
I load 8.0gr of Power Pistol under 200gr Speer Gold Dot JHP's and use them in my Kimber for CCW. Its pushing 965fps out of the 4" barrel and accuracy is darn good. I do not use a progressive press to load this ammo. Each charge is weighed on my RCBS 5-0-5 and is primed and seated on a single stage press. I am very meticulous on this load for obvious reasons.

I also use this in my Bersa Mini Firestorm with a 3.25" barrel but haven't clocked them yet with a chrono.

Recipe for Power Pistol; http://recipes.alliantpowder.com/rg.taf?_function=pistolrevolver&step=2&bulletID=106&cartridgeID=1030&caliber=%2E45&cartridgedescr=ACP%2BP&bulletdescr=200%20JHP

Gary H
August 10, 2005, 04:32 PM
Agreed, I wasn't going to load this on my progressive. I should be able to keep very tight tollerances by weighing each drop and using a single stage press.

August 10, 2005, 04:39 PM
Like Standing Wolf, I have no chrono and so buy my defensive ammo rather than make it. Hollow points are made to work in specific velocity ranges, and I'd rather not guess that I've got the right velocity.

Gary H
August 10, 2005, 04:44 PM
Yes, especially shooting JHP from a short barrel, I would be concerned that it would not open, or if designed to open at low velocities, it might be more prone to not opening when shooting through heavier material.

I've pretty much eliminated Power Pistol due to flash.

August 10, 2005, 07:05 PM
Wayne not to be a total smartass but how do you know that your factory ammo is performing in the appropiate range in your pistol? And have you tested your current lot of ammunition?

Factory ammo varies lot by lot, primers change, powders change, cases change, bullet alloys changed.

August 10, 2005, 07:15 PM
I've pretty much eliminated Power Pistol due to flash
I haven't noticed much flash but then again I haven't done much shooting in the eve. Maybe I'll try it out and see if I need to change powders due to flash in low light.

Dave R
August 10, 2005, 07:29 PM
I use a 'defensive load' in my short-barreled PT-145. 230gr. loads were only chrono-ing at 700-750fps, which I thought a bit low. So I use a 185gr. Gold Dot moving around 900fps.

August 11, 2005, 03:15 AM
the best defense load is the one that shoots the most accurately in your pistol and you can shoot accurately.

I disagree. For defensive ammunition, there are more important criteria such as reliability and stopping power. If you shoot someone at a distance greater than 25 feet, unless he was shooting at you, you're going to jail. Accuracy is a non-issue at defensive ranges. It is much more important that your gun works and that it stops the threat with the fewest possible rounds, since you are accountable for every round fired. I have heard plenty of guys say "I carry 230 ball ammo so I won't get sued". That is nonsense. A legal defensive shooting is just that, regardless of gun/ammo combination. But the more rounds you have to fire, the greater the chance of an innocent casualty by a bullet that missed it's mark. I carry a 10mm and I handload 180 grain Gold Sabres with IMR 800x to a velocity of 1342 FPS from my 3.5" Witness. I am confident that, barring the BG being on meth or PCP, this round will drop a threat with one torso shot, regardless of the attacker's size.

All that said, the most important thing is that you be very proficient with your CCW and train enough that reaction is instinctual to the best it can be using training scenarios.

August 11, 2005, 06:30 AM
1) reliability - first it MUST go bang.

2) terminal performance - will the bullet perform the correct work?

3) accuracy - will the bullet strike where aimed?

4) other stuff....... :neener:

August 11, 2005, 10:35 AM
Wayne not to be a total smartass but how do you know that your factory ammo is performing in the appropiate range in your pistol? And have you tested your current lot of ammunition?
Good questions.

Well, I don't know. I have no way of knowing. It's a case of having to trust some experts to do their job, vs. trusting myself, a complete amateur with no way to measure the performance of my loads.

In trusting the experts, I am hoping that their experience, their desire to have favorable reviews, and their desire to keep lawyers at bay will motivate them to produce good defensive loads.

I'd rather trust myself, but having neither ballistics gel nor a chronograph, I lack the most basic tools to verify that my loads will perform properly.

How should I test the defensive ammo I currently carry? Of course I've tested it for function in my pistol. It goes bang every time and hits about where I aim. What I'm trusting Speer for is that they've matched the velocity to the bullet so that the bullet will perform well, something I will gladly do myself once I get a chronograph.

I claim that as long as a round goes "bang" every time with the right velocity for the bullet to do its job, that variation in components doesn't mean anything for pistol defense ammo. It's not bullseye, and it doesn't matter if the ammo makes a 6" group at 25 yards or a 3" group. Any variations in ballstics will be insignificant when I'm shooting quickly, or on the run, or my hands are shaking from adrenalin.

(Added): I think I was a little snippy this morning when I wrote this. I'm sorry. Not only did you ask a really good question, but I'm not convinced I'm correct in my opinion. For one thing, some load manuals give velocities for their test barrels. Is there so much potential variation in velocity from components or pistols that one couldn't just pick the load with the bullet manufacturer's target velocity and use that?

August 11, 2005, 11:56 AM
My fellow Granite Stater, Mas Ayoob, makes case on the defensive use of reloads. He pointedly refers to the civil repercussions, which, as OJ found out, might be quite different than the criminal ones. I know some states are really particular about deadly force, and its application by civilians. When I had my San Diego carry card, in the mid 80's, I know there was a whole lot more to concern oneself with than just the ammo used, and for some reason I just don't think things have gotten any better out there.
When I took my CCW class in Westminster, CO, the police officer who taught the deadly force segment made it quite plain how one would be treated, even in a state that has a "make my day" law. You could count on being arrested, you could count on having the case number assigned your specific incident etched into the finish of the firearm you lawfully used to defend yourself. And while the Sunshine State just upped the ante in favour of us poor ignorant civilians, I don't think we need to worry about universal reciprocity any time soon.
In light of that, and much more, I find it kind of counter productive to carry home brewed rounds in my carry weapons. But, since we do live in America, you are free to do what you like, sort of. I find the Ranger line of SXT's does it for me. In every firearm I carry, from 380 to 45, I think I can rely on them to do what I need. And as a mere footnote in the history of terminal ballistics, those Golden Sabres y'all were talking about were designed by the same engineer who created the Ranger/Black Talon/SXT I prefer.

Gary H
August 11, 2005, 01:09 PM
I couldn't find reloading data for 230 LRN. The manufacturer doesn't even have it listed as a .45ACP powder, but uses on other cartridges in the .45 range. I've seen data for N340 and it claims to be low flash.

How does N340 differ from 3N37?
Where to find reloading data?

August 13, 2005, 07:12 PM
I'm in the process of working up a load for a S&W .38 special snub I have. I'm using Speer 135 gr Gold Dots loaded to non +p for practice, hotter for real deal.

Speer is marketing a line of Gold Dots designed for use in short barrels. You can check it out on their web site. The bullet I'm using is recommended for use around 860 fps.

You don't want to load too fast, as you may encounter seperation. Speer covers this in regards to their .357 mag loads.

I think one must be darn sure of what they are doing in order to load for self defense. When I was starting out with 10mm, I was tinkering around with the crimp and had some problems chambering some of the rounds. I wouldn't want to get caught with a mag of a load I was still working on.

As far as the liabliity is concerned, I think it will be way down on the list of your considerable problems in the event of even a good shoot. If it were a legitimate concern, wouldn't we all be relying on .25 autos? :D

Gary H
August 15, 2005, 02:10 AM
I now understand why everyone loves Power Pistol. Ignoring flash, it seems to be unique (no pun intended). Folks report almost equivalent results with AA#5, but complain that it is dirty. Maybe flash doesn't really matter. It certainly doesn't matter in a one to one encounter that lasts less than four seconds. Speer loads their 230gr GDSB to 820fps out of a four inch barrel. Now, that is a pretty heavy load. I would think that we would be pushing 870fps out of a 5". If that is what Speer loads to, then someone rolling their own had better do the same. So, I'll get some Power Pistol. I bet that the new Speer loaded ammo is pretty low flash, so that might be a good argument for using factory ammo. I don't buy the legal reasons. If a shoot is good, it is good. If it is bad, they will (in my area) make sure that the rest of your life is a living hell.

Just received this from Speer:

'IF' the new Speer 45 230gr. SB (short barrel) follows suit with what was done on the 38+p SB, it will have its own set of load data because the bullet HP is a new design. That having been said, the 45 Auto SB ammunition (part #23975)is not scheduled to be released until mid Sept. The component bullet (I don't even have a part # for it yet) usually follows. I don't have any data for it yet and I'm not sure when it will be available."

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