A poor man's defensive handgun ammo quandry


PDA






DBryant
September 25, 2011, 08:22 PM
Here are three things that I read often enough about defensive handgun ammo:

1. Practice with it often.
2. Don't use ball. It's less effective and can over-penetrate.
3. Don't use reloads. A prosecutor can use that against you.

Gents, I'm not necessarily saying any of this is wrong, but it puts me in kinda a tight spot. You see, I've got a blue-collar job, four mouths to feed, a house that needs several things fixed, I can only afford to keep one out of three vehicles running, and none of those are newer than 1998.

I may not be destitute (yet) but I'm doing good to get $20 a month after the bills are paid. Sometimes I don't even get that much.

Given the current prices of components I can load up 100 rounds of .40 S&W JHP for $24.20, or 24.2 cents a round. I can buy ball locally for about $30 per hundred, or 30 cents a round. If I could ever save up enough to order it in bulk, it would be about 26 cents a round. Factory JHP in bulk is about 32 cents a round at the cheapest. (prices from gun-deals.com)

So, if you were in my situation what would you do?

If you enjoyed reading about "A poor man's defensive handgun ammo quandry" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Mike1234567
September 25, 2011, 08:30 PM
My opinion...

Practice with cheap reloads (try to match bullet weight and velocity to your SD rounds).

Defend with quality JHP factory loads (I like Federal HST).

Verify your SD rounds cycle reliably (I prefer 200 rounds with no malfunctions)... some say 50 rounds is enough.

ETA #1: The above stated, one your budget, some folks will say load some decent JHP ammo to as close to factory specs as you can and buy some really good factory loads when you can afford it. I'd worry a bit about doing that but when money is really that tight then sometimes we just don't have another choice.

ETA #2: I didn't vote because my opinion doesn't match the choices.

Ranger30-06
September 25, 2011, 08:31 PM
Why don't you practice with cheap ball ammo, buy just enough quality ammo to make sure it functions flawlessly, then keep the quality ammo ready for whatever you need it for. That way you can practice constantly but will know that your HD ammo will be just fine when you need it.

The big key with this though is make sure that both ammo's are in the same bullet weight so that you don't get two totally different points of impact! :)

RussB
September 25, 2011, 08:33 PM
I would trade or sell that 40 cal and buy a 9mm

scaatylobo
September 25, 2011, 08:36 PM
Practice CHEAP any way you can.

Then buy one box of 50 rounds of primo D/T ammunition and shoot half for practice and carry the rest.

At very least ball ammo is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

MedWheeler
September 25, 2011, 08:50 PM
I went with the second option, too. The idea of trading off the .40 for a niner makes sense form a logical standpoint, as long as the trade doesn't set you back any. Heck, if my financial situation were so bad that I even had trouble with using a good amount of 9mm ammunition for defense and practice, I'd step down to a .22LR before I'd let my skill rust away from lack of practice and/or recreational shooting.

Old Shooter
September 25, 2011, 08:57 PM
So, if you were in my situation what would you do?

If it was my call I would shoot factory hardball.

It is usually very reliable in auto pistols.

Will not have the concerns of possible legal or reliability issues of reloads.

Will probably let you shoot a reasonable amount of practice ammo within your budget.

Wal-Mart WWB and Remington hardball in 45 acp and 9mm have both been 100% in all my guns and their prices are usually very good. I don't shoot 40S&W so I can't say anything about that one but I expect it should be a decent round/price.

Pyro
September 25, 2011, 08:57 PM
Heh, ball is not "less effective".
It might not as pretty as a JHP in a gel test but it will get the job done no doubt about it.

Mike1234567
September 25, 2011, 08:58 PM
If you already have reloading equipment there's really no need to sell/trade your .40 S&W for anything else. However, for practice, ADDING a .22LR is a great option to save a lot of money at the range. Just be sure to shoot the .40 occasionally so you remember the huge difference in recoil.

DBryant
September 25, 2011, 08:59 PM
Russ B, that may not be bad advice for someone looking to get a gun, but I find that whenever I trade guns, I have to go to a cheaper gun, pony up some more cash, or get really lucky.

Besides, I already have my gun, my wife's gun, and my reloading gear set up in .40. All that was purchased before two bouncing bundles of joy came into my life and the money left my wallet. I love my children and would do anything to take care of them, but man, they're expensive. Anyway, that's a lot to transition over to 9mm. Not to mention that the 9mm JHP's aren't that much cheaper than .40 S&W JHP's, at least not from what I've seen.

Ranger and Mike. This is probably pretty close to what I will end up doing. I'll probably reload some cheap FMJ's and shoot more .22. Still, I don't feel like I get to go shooting enough as it is, much less shooting my defensive ammo.

DBryant
September 25, 2011, 09:02 PM
Old Shooter, I've shot WWB in my pistol (S&W M&P) and it likes it just fine. It actually eats Wolf fine too, but I've seen that ammo choke up too many other guns to trust it completely. Come to think of it, I can't really find a load it doesn't like.

Mike1234567
September 25, 2011, 09:23 PM
RE Wolf Ammo: I'd stay away from the "lacquered" case ammo because many say it melts and transfers to the chamber causing malfunctions. I've not read about any issues with their other ammo other than it's "probably" a little harder on ejectors.

Lost Sheep
September 25, 2011, 09:35 PM
Here are three things that I read often enough about defensive handgun ammo:

1. Practice with it often.
2. Don't use ball. It's less effective and can over-penetrate.
3. Don't use reloads. A prosecutor can use that against you.

Gents, I'm not necessarily saying any of this is wrong, but it puts me in kinda a tight spot. You see, I've got a blue-collar job, four mouths to feed, a house that needs several things fixed, I can only afford to keep one out of three vehicles running, and none of those are newer than 1998.

I may not be destitute (yet) but I'm doing good to get $20 a month after the bills are paid. Sometimes I don't even get that much.

Given the current prices of components I can load up 100 rounds of .40 S&W JHP for $24.20, or 24.2 cents a round. I can buy ball locally for about $30 per hundred, or 30 cents a round. If I could ever save up enough to order it in bulk, it would be about 26 cents a round. Factory JHP in bulk is about 32 cents a round at the cheapest. (prices from gun-deals.com)

So, if you were in my situation what would you do?
Your choices, I think, are too limited.

Here are my quick suggestions:

1)
Practice with reloads or the cheapest ball you can buy, that feel similar to and hit to the same point of impact as the high-end commercially loaded defensive rounds, which you only shoot enough of to be sure it feeds well through your gun and to verify the point of impact.

2)
If you can swing it, get a .22 rimfire that feels and operates similar to your defensive gun. For the same ammunition cost you can practice 10 times as much with .22 as with .40 In a year, you will likely pay for the gun. Your kids can practice, too if they are old enough. Your wife should practice, also.

3)
I don't use handloads for self-defense, but there is a LOT of controversy over whether handloads are a liability in court (In my opinion, civil court problems are more likely than criminal; a good shoot vs bad shoot does not usually hinge on the amount of damage done. In criminal cases it tends to be guilty or not on use of deadly force. The ammunition used is usually irrelevant. Civil court is a different. It is about money, degrees of damage and dividing responsibility out.) I use ammunition with the word "Safety" in the name.

4)
I never shoot my defense ammunition. Well, almost never. I rotate it out every 5 years. At a couple of dollars PER ROUND I don't shoot them for practice.

To pyro, ball may not be "less effective", but hollow points are pretty clearly "more effective". Ball tends to penetrate too far and wind up expending energy on the background behind the target, which may include innocent bystanders. Ball ammo also tends to produce very little shock value, nor bleeding. Police departments over the country have been using hollowpoints for decades because, not only are they more effective at stopping bad people doing bad things, they are also less deadly. This may seem contradictory (more ragged wound less deadly than small hole), but not until you think about it. Police shoot bad guys doing bad things only until they stop doing the bad things. Then, they render first aid and call in paramedics. Ball takes more hits to stop the bad actions. More holes, more eventual loss of life. Big, hollowpoint holes tend to stop bad actions faster, with fewer hits. Faster arrival of medical aid. Fewer, shallower holes. Messier, sure. But fewer deaths in the long run.

Going off-topic, a dog (in the 25 to 50 caliber, er, pound range) is a good early-warning system for the home. Difficult to conceal, though. But they are self-transporting, so don't require a holster. They also offer counseling at least on a par with your average therapist - and don't reveal patient confidences, ever. They rarely ever run out of ammunition and provide exercise for the whole family. Great companionship (and education) for the kids and will keep your feet warm at night (try THAT with a Remington 870!).

Congratulations on your family, thanks for asking our advice and good luck.

Lost Sheep

Onward Allusion
September 25, 2011, 09:41 PM
Shoot less or start shooting 9mm. 40 is good but 9 is still respectable and a lot cheaper.

MrWesson
September 25, 2011, 09:44 PM
If I were you I would move to shooting .22's almost exclusively if I only had $20 a month to spend.

I would start begging for lead at tire shops, collecting brass and saving up for a reloading kit my choice would be a lee deluxe turret kit/4hole dies ~150 and then lee aluminum mold(~$20). That will get you started until you can afford a lee casting pot(you can use a ladle/SS pot).

MikeNice
September 25, 2011, 09:45 PM
Practice with reloads, if you have time to make them. Then buy two boxes of your chosen SD round. Shoot one to test and have one for when you need it.

Mr.Blue
September 25, 2011, 10:04 PM
Dry fire more. It's a great way to practice. You'll get much better with your trigger and it won't cost you a dime. Good luck, my friend.

DBryant
September 25, 2011, 10:10 PM
Mr. Blue, I really like the suggestion of dryfire. I wish I didn't have to rack the slide each time but that's a small price to pay for cheap practice.

Besides, when I was in boot camp we did an hour of dry fire each day for a week. It definitely does work.

Mr.Blue
September 25, 2011, 10:12 PM
I find it really made me a better shot and kept my grip strong.

RussB
September 25, 2011, 10:14 PM
Russ B, that may not be bad advice for someone looking to get a gun, but I find that whenever I trade guns, I have to go to a cheaper gun, pony up some more cash, or get really lucky.

Besides, I already have my gun, my wife's gun, and my reloading gear set up in .40. All that was purchased before two bouncing bundles of joy came into my life and the money left my wallet. I love my children and would do anything to take care of them, but man, they're expensive. Anyway, that's a lot to transition over to 9mm. Not to mention that the 9mm JHP's aren't that much cheaper than .40 S&W JHP's, at least not from what I've seen.

Ranger and Mike. This is probably pretty close to what I will end up doing. I'll probably reload some cheap FMJ's and shoot more .22. Still, I don't feel like I get to go shooting enough as it is, much less shooting my defensive ammo.
Then shoot reloads. Lead for practice and load up some hollowpoints for carry. There is always a lot of talk about the legality of handloads for self-defense, but I'm yet to see and proof or evidence that it could get you in trouble

Lost Sheep
September 25, 2011, 10:30 PM
Just for eye-hand-trigger control, an accurate air pistol is pretty good. I have a Feinwerkbau (nothing like any of my centerfire guns, but fun nontheless) that is a hoot. Ammo cost is virtually zero, as the bbs can be recovered and reused. Pellets, not so much, but they are more accurate.

The Airsoft guns are made to emulate the feel of popular centerfire guns, but I have no idea how effective they are at sharpening one's trigger skills.

This (current) thread attempts to address the self-defense handloads question (again). I haven't read it yet, but since it is currently active, I would post a link.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=7609360

Lost Sheep

The Watchman
September 25, 2011, 10:30 PM
DBryant you mentioned boot camp.. What branch did you serve in? If money is as critical as only having 20$ left over at the end of the month, I could GIVE you a few boxes of .40 defense rounds. Sounds like they would help you better than just sitting in my gun safe.

Where are you located?

Tallinar
September 25, 2011, 10:33 PM
<shrug> I practice with and carry lead handloads for my .44 special.

Nushif
September 25, 2011, 10:41 PM
If I were you ... which I was until about a month ago ...

I'd buy some cheap FMJ rounds for SD and practice with the cheapest reloads you can swing.

I know the HP round is simply better in every aspect, explodes limbs on contact and all that ... but I don't think someone is going to laugh off a .40 FMJ to the chest anytime soon.
All this worry about overpenetration is very nice, but ultimately you are faced with two choices: Defend yourself and those four mouths ... or not. And given your realities, your only valid means of defense, short of a trusty ol' slugger is FMJ. Use it. No soldier has ever turned down a ka-bar in a fight, because they dropped their Infidel knife.

Jorg Nysgerrig
September 25, 2011, 10:46 PM
I think if I were in that situation, I'd just stick with whatever happened to be in the gun, cut back on my shooting and focus on getting other things taken care of.

wlewisiii
September 26, 2011, 08:11 AM
Consider getting a cheap used .22 pistol Simply shooting more will do you more good than any other single thing you can do.

brnmuenchow
September 26, 2011, 08:26 AM
:)Due to the financial situation here in America I am having to watch my money as well. I try to go shoot as often as I can. As for using my expensive defensive ammo I use it when I can, but not at the expense of my other responsibilities. I know they say to practice using your defensive carry loads, and I would agree but shooting something like Winchester NATO (for ex.) is better than not shooting at all.

Kachok
September 26, 2011, 11:16 AM
Pretty good advice here, practice with the cheap stuff, or a 22. And when not at the range keep loaded with high performance JHPs (Gold Dot, HST, Ranger T-series, or Gold Sabers)

Waywatcher
September 26, 2011, 11:20 AM
I'm in the same boat, OP.

Here's what I shoot in my .40; Q4355 (http://www.sgammo.com/product/winchester/special-purcahse-500-rds-40-cal-winchester-ranger-180-gr-bonded-hollow-point-ammo), for about the same price as FMJ.

Jonah71
September 26, 2011, 11:37 AM
My opinion...

Practice with cheap reloads (try to match bullet weight and velocity to your SD rounds).

Defend with quality JHP factory loads (I like Federal HST).

Verify your SD rounds cycle reliably (I prefer 200 rounds with no malfunctions)... some say 50 rounds is enough.

ETA #1: The above stated, one your budget, some folks will say load some decent JHP ammo to as close to factory specs as you can and buy some really good factory loads when you can afford it. I'd worry a bit about doing that but when money is really that tight then sometimes we just don't have another choice.

ETA #2: I didn't vote because my opinion doesn't match the choices.
Good idea imo.

MartinS
September 26, 2011, 12:33 PM
Do you really need to practice with your carry ammo? Are your perceptions and shooting so finely tuned that shooting the cheap stuff will throw you off?
Get an airsoft and wear it out.

Mike1234567
September 26, 2011, 12:41 PM
:confused::uhoh:

NavyLCDR
September 26, 2011, 12:58 PM
I voted for carry reloads for self defense. That's what I do. I'm not worried about the prosecutor saying anything about it.

230therapy
September 26, 2011, 01:14 PM
You don't need to practice with expensive defensive ammunition. That's just silly. If it's that much different than practice ammunition, then you're buying the wrong practice ammo. I find there are significant differences in Wolf/Tula/Brown Bear and my defensive loads (and even some practice ammo such as Federal American Eagle 9x19mm 115 grain FMJ--felt like Speer Gold Dot in my EMP).

Do some comparisons of your defensive ammo, some reloads, and reasonably priced commercial practice ammo. If it's in the ballpark, you're done.

1) Accumulate defensive ammo over time. Get one box per month. Don't shoot it; just carry it. Rotate it out after a year of carry if the gun was never dumped in a puddle.

2) Use additional ammo search engines
ammoseek.com
ammoengine.com

3) Reload practice ammo built to have similar recoil characteristics as defensive ammo.

4) Shoot LOTS of 22 LR.

5) Do only function checks on new mags with the ammo.


Additionally, don't empty the chamber on your defensive pistol. Keep it in there until you do routine cleaning. If you chamber a round too many times, it may set back into the case and possible cause pressure problems. My rule is that a round will go into the chamber up to two times. It gets shot on the third loading since it's now in my "shoot this!" bag.

rich642z
September 26, 2011, 01:38 PM
I am disabled and on a fixed income and in a wheelchair 90 percent of the time[heart]. I use ball and semi wadcutter ammo all the time in my revolvers. Even for self defense.

.338-06
September 26, 2011, 02:20 PM
I had to budget my shooting after the birth of my two girls as well. I had reloaded before having a family, but I found I couldn't afford the nice bullets (GD, Sabres, XTPs and so on) so I started casting. I bought a Lee Pro pot USED, a couple of moulds USED and scrounged a lot of lead. I can reload my .45s for about $.06/round. I can't remember the last time I bought brass-scrounge that too.

I also have fallen for the "use store bought defense ammo" line. So I have some 7 year old Glassers for carry. I have started to think that my lead round nose reloads wouldn't be a problem in court.

.338-06
September 26, 2011, 02:46 PM
You could also try this ammo http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/AMM4211-1.html?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=ammocalebworldshoot09262011

But in .40 S&W of course.

waidmann
September 26, 2011, 03:18 PM
1. Yes
2. Accuracy is king, penetration is queen, the rest is where the debate starts.
3. It may be a more appropriate discussion for a civil lawsuit. If you are being prosecuted its only icing on a rather substantial cake.

357 Terms
September 26, 2011, 03:30 PM
For the price of a 22 to practice with you could buy 3-4 thousand plated bullets to reload and practice with.
I think you should practice with what you carry.
Hollowpoints that are reliable ( In your Smith that would probly be just about everything) are a better idea.

rellascout
September 26, 2011, 03:53 PM
I think if I were in that situation, I'd just stick with whatever happened to be in the gun, cut back on my shooting and focus on getting other things taken care of.

Winner winner chicken dinner. Stick with what you have. If you only have $20a month to shoot trading in or buying anothe setup is not really an option. I would say keep reloading for practice. Get factory ball or try to find some Federal Hi-shocks for self defense which are much cheaper than premimum defensive ammo and only shoot enough to know it feeds and keep shooting reloads for practice.

In the end there is not enoug $$$ in the budget to do anything else.

Good luck

NG VI
September 26, 2011, 04:18 PM
1. Federal HST has fed well in every pistol I've tried it in, and is tied for first with the 4th generation Ranger-T bullet for most consistent, strong performance.

2. HST is cheaper than any other premium bullet, keep looking online and in person and you can usually find it for about $20-25 a box.

3. Practice using reloads with the cheapest bullet you can find, or use a mold and make your own.

That's my advice. Buy two-three boxes of HST, fire a magazine full of them, two if you have enough, through your pistol just to be sure, and practice as much as you can get around to with the cheapest reloads you can make. Try to tailor your loads to match the HST ballistics as best you can, make sure your pistol likes that arrangement at least in a general sense.

DBryant
September 26, 2011, 10:55 PM
Thanks to everyone for all the responses.

The Watchman, yes, I was in the Marines for 4 years as a data network specialist (just about the most POG MOS you can get). As far as giving me some defensive ammo, well, that's very generous of you but I wouldn't feel quite right about it. Maybe if I get hard up enough I will.

A buddy with a squirrel problem is borrowing it at the moment, but I do own a Hi-Standard .22 pistol. The controls are nothing like either my gun or my wife's but it's still practice. Also, a member here has offered to give me a laser dry fire trainer that he has sitting in his safe. So there is another way to practice.

I really like the idea of finding a defensive load and trying to duplicate it with reloads for practice. I'm going to have to start looking into that and see what I can get in loaded ammo and bullets for reloading.

This discussion (and some others I've been having at work) have given me some ideas about how I might be able to pick up a little extra cash to keep me shooting. Wish me well as I try my hand at some of those!

Mike1234567
September 27, 2011, 09:37 AM
DBryant... If Watchman sends you a box and I send you a box this can be done throught the "Pay It Forward" forum. So, when times are better for you, then just help somene else in the future.

HGUNHNTR
September 27, 2011, 10:05 AM
Pay your bills, buy good quality food, save for your children's education, and shoot whatever you have in the gun for defense loads.

If you have a $20 margin at the end of the month you'd better stop shooting altogether until you get things sorted out. Best of Luck.

usmccpl
September 27, 2011, 11:56 AM
I voted for carrying reloads. Bad idea? Maybe. But its better than shooting through what needs to be shot and hitting something that doesn't.

Ash_J_Williams
September 27, 2011, 01:31 PM
Maybe I'm missing something simple, but what do people mean by ball ammo?

BCRider
September 27, 2011, 02:02 PM
Maybe I'm missing something simple, but what do people mean by ball ammo?

FMJ smooth. round nose bullets. No soft or hollow point present.

DBryant, as an aid to making your practice even cheaper I think I'd be looking at getting into scrounging for lead and get into casting your own bullets. The melting pot and molds will cost up front but from that point and with some scrounging you can mold up bullets for basically free. They need to be lubed with something but as I understand it a small bottle of Allox goes a long way and avoids the need for a lubrisizer press. Maybe look around to see if anyone in your area is already casting their own and would allow you to help out with the lead scrounging and casting steps in exchange for bullets. If you can set up something like that you won't even need to come up with the front money for assembling the casting setup.

In any event I suspect that as long as it could be shown that you're not making up any "special dum-dum super killer bullets" or whatever the prosecutor's claim would be that any attempt to show that you were out to purposely maim or kill anyone would soon come to an end in a court case. And the added cost to set that aside would turn out to be minor compared to the rest of the legal cost.

huntsman
September 27, 2011, 02:53 PM
So, if you were in my situation what would you do?

I built my pile one box at a time usually 2 boxes a month, I got my .45acp in 09 and since I've bought over 1000 rounds and Iíve shot well over half and Iím still buying.

Shoot one buy one thatís my goal now.

DBryant
September 28, 2011, 11:07 PM
Mike, what is the "Pay if Forward" forum? It sounds like a really good idea.

To all those who have suggested casting my own, I was talking to a friend at work and it turns out he has an old melting pot that he would be happy to give me (made by Lyman, he thinks). It was given to him and he never got around to using it other than to fire it up once to be sure it worked.

Another gentleman says that he has a line on some lead for me as well.

I have to say, I've been really blown away by the response, both by guys I know only casually at work and by people on this forum that I really don't know at all. This just goes to show: Gun guys are great guys!

Snowbandit
September 28, 2011, 11:32 PM
In your situation I would be loaded with reloads and never give it another thought. I would load them myself and be absolutely certain the loads were based on published loading data from a recognized source. For defensive carry ammo I would probably even record brand name and lot numbers of components just to be on the safe side and back off a bit from the fire-breathing max loads. Loads like that will never become an issue as long as the shooting is good to start with.

Tokarevsrule
September 29, 2011, 07:01 AM
Use ball ammo. It worked in ww2 pretty well. It isn't as good as hp, but it will do the job.

Mike1234567
September 29, 2011, 09:56 AM
...what is the "Pay if Forward" forum? It sounds like a really good idea.

Sorry... I thought it was a forum but it's actually a stickied thread. :)

Stickied Pay It Forward Thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=551224&page=3&highlight=pay+it+forward)

If you enjoyed reading about "A poor man's defensive handgun ammo quandry" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!