budget vs premiun defense ammo


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Tired_and_hungry
March 21, 2012, 12:51 PM
Does it REALLY matter with reference to real world performance whether one uses budget or premium defense ammo in one's handgun? Does the real world performance of premium ammo actually justify the added $$$$ spent?

For instance, my local dealer is selling both
http://www.winchester.com/PRODUCTS/HANDGUN-AMMUNITION/usa/jhp/Pages/USA9JHP.aspx
and
http://www.federalpremium.com/products/details/handgun.aspx?id=121 at $15 for 50rds while
http://www.winchester.com/products/handgun-ammunition/supreme-elite/bonded-pdx1/Pages/S9MMPDB1.aspx is sold at $27 per box of 50 rounds.

Since money is a little tight at the moment, should I just buy several boxes of the budget defense ammo and be done with it or is the pricey stuff really worth its proverbial weight in gold?

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allaroundhunter
March 21, 2012, 12:56 PM
Does it REALLY matter with reference to real world performance whether one uses budget or premium defense ammo in one's handgun? Does the real world performance of premium ammo actually justify the added $$$$ spent?


Practice with something that you can afford to shoot often, but do throw in some premium rounds so you know that you and your gun can handle them.

But yes, premium rounds do have much better real world performance.....and $27 per 50 really is pretty cheap....Corbon DPX (that stay in my M&P) run about $27 per 20

I would take two boxes of PDX-1s....just because I value my life more than $24

NG VI
March 21, 2012, 01:18 PM
The best of the defensive bullets are pretty easy to find in 50 round law enforcement boxes for prices ranging between $15 (oddball sales and things like SGAmmo has on the 180 Ranger Bonded) and $25.

The generic JHP bullets fit the construction specs for 'any copper jacketed lead cored bullet with a hollow nose' but they generally haven't beent he beneficiaries of any amount of testing and fine tuning. They sometimes work quite well, they're always better than ball, but they're never as consistent or as reliable as the better designed stuff.

That said, "more money" isn't the metric you want to use when picking out a defensive bullet. There are many boutique loaders out there charging a dollar per round or even more than that while using bullets at best equal to the average premium duty/defense bullet, and very frequently just a generic JHP loaded very hot.

Bullet design has come a long way in the last 25 years, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of tens of millions of dollars or more in other people's time and money and carry something that's been ptc

BSA1
March 21, 2012, 03:38 PM
For me depending on the caliber not really. I am a hunter/gather so I believe in shot placement and complete penetration through both sides of the body for a quick kill. Since I live in the country overpenetration is not much of a concern for me whereas in a city it would be a factor.

Semi-automatics require a narrow power range to function properly. Revolvers, especially magnums, give you a broad range of power since a revolver does not require energy for the round to function.

You should test your ammunition yourself in your guns in test media. The results will very likely surprise you. Try shooting your rounds into water covered by several layers of clothing, blocks of ice, through sheetrock, plywood, 2x4's (all common building materials in your home). A old car door is interesting. You may likely find that the premium bullet does not perform any better than the budget one.

Two real world ammunition choices I made;

We have a snubnose .38 Spl. revolver that is used by my wife for self-defense in the home. After doing much of the testing I described above I chose Hornady Critical Defense. I am very impressed with it's performance in all test media I used as it expands well out of that 2" barrel.

On the other end I use plain old ball ammunition in my 45 Autos. My experiments have shown that expansion at 850 +/- fps is iffey. In this case I am putting the 110% feeding relibility of ball ammo over the JHP's.

Again I must stress that I believe bullet placement is everything. I look forward to the responses that disagree with me.

Also do not believe any responses, including mine, until you test your ammunition in your gun. Along with being educational it is a heck of a lot of fun to shoot things up.

Remllez
March 21, 2012, 08:19 PM
Not all JHP is created equal!

That said get a box or two of premium ammo for self defense and look for cheap practice ammo that duplicates as close as possible the ballistics of the premium ammo you chose. If the velocity is close the trajectory should be similar.

22-rimfire
March 21, 2012, 09:34 PM
I fall in the camp that if you choose good hollow point ammo, it doesn't really matter in the real world. But I do know that the preformance of the premium HP's is better. I suspect I will never fire a shot in self defense in my lifetime, hence regular hollow points are just fine for me.

PabloJ
March 21, 2012, 09:40 PM
Not all JHP is created equal!

That said get a box or two of premium ammo for self defense and look for cheap practice ammo that duplicates as close as possible the ballistics of the premium ammo you chose. If the velocity is close the trajectory should be similar.
Not a bad idea the Speer Gold Dot and Speer Lawman make fine duo.

NOLAEMT
March 21, 2012, 10:37 PM
I would disagree that cheap hollow points are always better than ball ammo. They can over expand or even fragment, leading to inadequate penetration.

SHR970
March 21, 2012, 11:11 PM
Funny thing about over expansion and fragmentation; in some calibers that is a good thing. The archtype ammo that has been the benchmark for almost 40 years now has been the Federal 125 gr. JHP out of a 357. It has a generous exposed lead nose and largeish cavity. They are known for violent / overexpansion and fragmentation. What's left also would generally make the 14 inch mark. It served well in law enforcement and personal use for a long time. A reason it is a benchmark is that there are lots of documented shootings and lots of downed people with it.

In a semi auto, premium ammo can make a difference; in a revolver not as much. The reason is revlover ammo can have a large exposed soft lead tip to aid expansion even if the cavity is clogged with stuff. Semiautos don't have exposed lead and are more beholding to profile constraints to aid in reliable feeding.

And please don't start on the 12" of penetration stuff unless you have read up on the Miami shootout and understand how one bullet became the scapegoat for the FBI agents pathetic tactics in that situation.

SHR970
March 21, 2012, 11:19 PM
For budget ammo find some Federal 9BPLE. It runs around $18 a box of 50. This is the Law Enforcement 115 gr. +P+ ammo that has been used for around 20 years. You can find it on line easy enough. Since you linked to 9mm ammo, I presume that's what you intend to feed.

sirsloop
March 22, 2012, 12:17 AM
I spend more time thinking about how I will effectively put the rounds down range :)

jhco50
March 22, 2012, 01:17 AM
Could a lot of this SD ammo be just marketing? I have seen ammo go up in price everytime a company comes out with a new and improved bullet, but what does the bullet really do? I used regular hollow and soft points for years with no ill effect of any kind. I feel comfortable with them for self defense as well. I don't feel unarmed, nor am I spending big bucks for the latest man killer.

I have seen a lot of changes over the years. I have seen rifles with bigger and bigger calibers for hunting the same deer or elk they had when I was young. They haven't gotten any tougher and a .30-30 will kill them just as dead as they did way back when.

I think what we experience is the manufacturer trying to sell more product and to do so they have to convince us our old standbys are not as good as we thought, but these new ones work twice as good...do they? I don't think humans have gotten any tougher either. A chunk of lead, even if it doesn't expand perfectly is still something the human body doesn't tolerate well.

Bassleg
March 22, 2012, 01:30 AM
jhco50 has the right answer I have kill a lot of stuff with a 270 win. 130 bullet and have never lost 1 because it was to small of a gun.

raubvogel
March 22, 2012, 01:38 AM
I am surprised they do not come up with black painted ammo and call it tactical

contactcole
March 22, 2012, 01:53 AM
The smaller the caliber, or lighter w/in caliber, the more it matters IMO. I'd not skimp on SD ammo if I could help it. Regardless, it's all better than an empty gun.

thefamcnaj
March 22, 2012, 02:28 AM
I am surprised they do not come up with black painted ammo and call it tactical
Be patient it will be out in due time, they had to get the green zombie killing ammo out first :)
The way I decide on self defense ammo is through reviews, mainly tnoutdoors9 on youtube, he has some good stuff on his channel.
After reviews I conduct my own NON scientific test. I shoot wet phone books wrapped in denim.
I personally wouldn't carry wwb hollow points (or something similar)because I figure if the Local pd doesn't deem it a quality ammo they can depend on, then I can't either.
I choose the "premium ammo" because I feel confident that its going to exspand and penetrate as advertised. The three loads I've decided on are the pdx1 in 9mm, remington golden saber in .40 and speer gold dot short barrel in .45. They are all pricey but one of those pricey rounds may save: me, my wife or my son one day. just my .02

NG VI
March 22, 2012, 02:16 PM
The top-shelf bullets are the ones that can be had for under $30 per 50, generally not much more than $20 per fifty. If $0.40~55 per round for best-in-class bullet design is too much, I think your spending priorities are a little off. All ammunition prices are going nowhere but up, as long as you are diligent and don't ever buy the 20/25 round rape boxes it doesn't cost that much to get a decent stash of defensive ammunition started.

NG VI
March 22, 2012, 02:19 PM
The top-shelf bullets are the ones that can be had for under $30 per 50, generally not much more than $20 per fifty. If $0.40~55 per round for best-in-class bullet design is too much, I think your spending priorities are a little off. All ammunition prices are going nowhere but up, as long as you are diligent and don't ever buy the 20/25 round rape boxes it doesn't cost that much to get a decent stash of defensive ammunition started.

And I don't know anyone who carries a .270 as their defense pistol, personally. I think using rifle ammunition and hunting scenarios to try and plot out your defense needs is a little off.

allaroundhunter
March 22, 2012, 05:58 PM
I am surprised they do not come up with black painted ammo and call it tactical

Calling it "tactical" wouldn't be tactical enough, so they went with "Black Talon" ;)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/Winchester_Black_Talon_10mm.jpg/800px-Winchester_Black_Talon_10mm.jpg

easyg
March 22, 2012, 06:50 PM
Shot placement is paramount for sure.

But I do believe that some ammo performs better than other ammo.
And when it comes to my life, and the lives of my loved ones, I'll take any advantage (however slight) that premium ammo offers.

Pyro
March 22, 2012, 09:39 PM
Fiocchi [Shooting Dynamics] makes high quality JHP's that cost much less than other brands, they come in 50 round boxes too.
Magtech Guardian Gold is 'ok' although I've yet to see a positive test where they've expanded through denim. I'd carry them though.
Magtech First Defense and their budget blue/white JHP boxes I've yet to really see.
Hornady XTP can be found for less than other brands as well, those bullets hardly expand 'violently'...I like them since the bullet design focuses on penetration.

Now if I could find Winchester Ranger....

sargents1
March 22, 2012, 10:25 PM
Does it REALLY matter with reference to real world performance whether one uses budget or premium defense ammo in one's handgun? Does the real world performance of premium ammo actually justify the added $$$$ spent?

For instance, my local dealer is selling both
http://www.winchester.com/PRODUCTS/HANDGUN-AMMUNITION/usa/jhp/Pages/USA9JHP.aspx
and
http://www.federalpremium.com/products/details/handgun.aspx?id=121 at $15 for 50rds while
http://www.winchester.com/products/handgun-ammunition/supreme-elite/bonded-pdx1/Pages/S9MMPDB1.aspx is sold at $27 per box of 50 rounds.

Since money is a little tight at the moment, should I just buy several boxes of the budget defense ammo and be done with it or is the pricey stuff really worth its proverbial weight in gold?

Premium ammo is better. No doubt about it.

But...

What really matters is:
1. Having a gun that works.
2. Having the will to use it, and the ability.
3. Shot placement. If you put a cheapo fmj straight thru the middle of the bad-guy's heart, then your bullet selection becomes a moot point.

So, if money is tight, really really tight, then buy cheap ammo and load up and be done with it.

But really, Premium carry ammo is probably not SO expensive that you cant afford two boxes of it...right? One to shoot for function check, and one to keep for carry ammo.

1SOW
March 23, 2012, 01:40 AM
Does it REALLY matter with reference to real world performance whether one uses budget or premium defense ammo in one's handgun? Does the real world performance of premium ammo actually justify the added $$$$ spent?
In a word, Yes, especially in your 9mm. The goal is STOP THE THREAT.

The generally accepted standard for effective stopages is the FBI protocol.
Among other things It involves penetration through various materials (like jeans and other clothing) and and still give predictable expansion (2 x bullet diameter=.355" x 2 in 9mm= .7+") in the threat .

Hornady critical duty fully meets this standard. Several others also meet or come close it.

The cheaper JHPs may not open up after going through a pair of jeans that plugs up the hollow point, or may not penetrate deep enough, or may fragment etc etc.

What most above said is good info. Good hits matter. Good hits with a premium bullet will "more be more likely" to stop the the threat more reliably than cheaper ammo.

Many of the bullets, cheaper and premium, have been tested using the FBI protocol. http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Self_Defense_Ammo_FAQ/index.htm
The Hornady Critical Duty is relatively new.

JohnBiltz
March 23, 2012, 03:51 AM
I think there is very little you can control or predict about any self defense situation. You can't know how you will perform or how accurate you will shoot. The only things you can control is what gun you are carrying and what ammo is in it. If it might offer an advantage, I will take it. A box of SD ammo is fairly expensive comparatively, it will also last a very long time.

ColtPythonElite
March 23, 2012, 03:58 AM
I vote budget. Get more rounds for your buck and practice.

FIVETWOSEVEN
March 23, 2012, 10:49 AM
I just use Remington bulk JHP. Even FMJ will do the job out of my .40 so these when they expand will do the trick.

mcdonl
March 23, 2012, 06:17 PM
Im in the buy what you can afford to shoot a lot of...

I do have a couple of questions though that someone may care to answer...

Let's say I buy WWB 9mm, or load with equivalent supplies to get the same load.....

Is there a good HP that would cycle/shoot the same as the load I practice with?

My other thought is regarding situation using the ammo in...

In my rural, low crime area I would most be concerned with home invasion or strong armed robery... both of those are likely going to be badguys who really do not want to get shot. Criminal mindset if you will.... for the most part they have a pretty high sense of self preservation and go to great lengths to NOT get caught.... But, conversley LEOs or folks who live in areas with a higher percentage of "drugged out whackos" and others who are intent on harming you even if you are shooting at them... might benefit from a hi-tech defensive round be more effective in the later scenario where in the former any old round will do.... Just wondering...

Lee D
March 23, 2012, 06:37 PM
depends on which guns im buying ammo for....
premium ammo for my 9mms and .380s, but i do tend to stock up on ball ammo for the .45s

oldfool
March 23, 2012, 08:14 PM
I just get cannot get myself real excited over boutique

me more like CPE and sirsloop, I guess ?
shoot lots, practice, enjoy
misses are equally effective with whitebox as with boutique

If worried enough about the caliber/cartridge you use/carry for whatever you do, they make bigger/badder caliber guns for the same reason they make better-badder-boutique-ammo, and "bring enough gun" always struck me as much about bringing enough gun for the load you shoot through it, at least as much as ballistics of of what you load it up with
(as good an excuse as ever there was for owning multiple calibers, you know)

but I have less than zero interest in telling you that you are doing it "wrong"
nobody gets to decide what's best for you, except you
freedom of choice, what's not to love about that ? :)

bluethunder1962
March 23, 2012, 08:46 PM
I shoot the cheap stuff for having fun but first thing I do when I ge home is load everything up with the good stuff.

SHR970
March 23, 2012, 09:03 PM
The generally accepted standard for effective stopages is the FBI protocol.
I just knew the Miami shootout would surface sooner or later.

tomaz45
March 23, 2012, 09:04 PM
I shoot the cheap stuff for practice. However, when it comes to my defensive rounds, I stuff my gun with as much research and know-how as I can buy. When and if that "I thought this might happen" moment occurs, I will have the ability to do what needs to be done, and my lawyer will have an open box of ammo with "DEFENSE"!!! colorfully printed on all sides by a well repected manufacturer. I want my jury to understand that this was not "tactical", not "home made real killers", but mass marketed "Defense".

wally
March 24, 2012, 09:49 AM
Where you place the bullet on the target is far more important in determining handgun effectiveness than which bullet it happens to be.

If you ammo goes BANG! every time and you are fast and accurate with it, don't worry about what brand it is.

Loosedhorse
March 24, 2012, 11:42 AM
I am surprised they do not come up with black painted ammo and call it tacticalWhen Hornady first came out with it's TAP ammo, they did in fact use "tactical" black-nickel cases:

http://assets.academy.com/mgen/98/10047098.jpg?is=500,500

Folks (like me) complained that black cases have traditionally been used for action-proving dummy rounds:

http://www.dummyammo.ca/resources/IMGP2179.JPG.opt375x281o0,0s375x281.JPG

So, the new ammo defeated the point of using black cases for dummy rounds. Two things happened: Hornady when back to brass-colored cases, and dummy rounds got colorful:

http://www.nioa.net.au/Images/azoom/azoom%20range2.jpg

And so a company called Natec decided that colored polymer case LIVE ammo would be a great idea.

http://www.ammobank.com/natec/natec3.JPG

Now THAT's tactical.

Jaymo
March 24, 2012, 12:02 PM
FBI protocol and ammo are great for the FBI, but not for CC citizens. Our requirements are diffferent than theirs.
LE has a potential need to shoot through light barriers to hit a BG. We do not.

fatcat4620
March 24, 2012, 12:09 PM
Check ammunitiontogo.com they often have top of the line ammo at budget prices

NG VI
March 24, 2012, 02:02 PM
FBI protocol and ammo are great for the FBI, but not for CC citizens. Our requirements are diffferent than theirs.
LE has a potential need to shoot through light barriers to hit a BG. We do not.


Dunno where you're getting that, law enforcement people carry handguns for personal defense, just like anyone else. Notice that any time they expect there could be shooting they show up in big groups carrying AR-15s and shotguns? The chances that a police officer is going to someday be involved in a shooting is definitely higher than your average bear's, but that doesn't mean that personal defense shooting has substantially different requirements.

What works best for the last-ditch defensive weapon of people who sometimes have to protect their lives from various disturbed individuals, is the best thing for anybody carrying a weapon in case they are ever targeted by a disturbed individual.

And the FBI protocols aren't strictly about performance through barriers. Besides, the barrier performance of rounds that do well in the FBI tests do so because they are less sensitive to the barrier, not because they are any better at penetrating it. Every conventional bullet you can stuff into a service caliber handgun is absolutely going to be lethal and capable of penetrating lots of human after passing through auto glass, wallboard, sheet metal, or heavy clothing.

The bullets that are said to do 'well' in the FBI tests are the ones that behave the most like an unobstructed shot, regardless

coalman
March 24, 2012, 03:05 PM
I'd skip a meal or two if that's what it took to afford premium SD ammo.

buck460XVR
March 24, 2012, 03:47 PM
I think what we experience is the manufacturer trying to sell more product and to do so they have to convince us our old standbys are not as good as we thought, but these new ones work twice as good...do they? I don't think humans have gotten any tougher either. A chunk of lead, even if it doesn't expand perfectly is still something the human body doesn't tolerate well.

Where you place the bullet on the target is far more important in determining handgun effectiveness than which bullet it happens to be.

If you ammo goes BANG! every time and you are fast and accurate with it, don't worry about what brand it is.


Wally and jhco50 have a good handle on it. That said, I'm the first person that will tell folks to use what they are most comfortable with when it comes to SD/HD. This is for both the firearm and the ammo they use in it. It is your life and the lives of your loved ones you are trying to protect, and if the firearm or the ammo does not perform and someone gets hurt because of it, you can only hold yourself responsible. Myself, I'm most comfortable using premium handloads.......:D

JRH6856
March 24, 2012, 04:02 PM
IMO, premium ammo may perform differently than standard ammo, but shot placement determines which one performs better. YMMV with your accuracy.

rwilson37643
March 24, 2012, 05:18 PM
The terminal performance of ANY handgun round leaves a lot to be desired. Premium ammo may outperform standard ammo, but the difference is not phenomenal. I test carry ammo by shooting at a row of gallon jugs, If it will go through at least 3 but less than 6 with some expansion i'm happy. If it violently disrupts the firs 2 I'm happier. Before ammo even makes it to this test it has to run through at least 500 rounds without a malfunction and give acceptable groups (3 inch at 25 yards for a standard carry gun).

JohnBiltz
March 24, 2012, 05:29 PM
I keep hearing this same theme come up. Shot placement is more important, this is of course true but in the context of this thread its pretty meaningless. You are not going to shoot better with cheap ammo. If anything cheap ammo is less accurate and less reliable. The cheaper the ammo the more I see solidly dented but unfired primers. You can load up with ammo that has proven so ineffective at stopping things that it is banned for hunting pretty much everywhere if you want but its penny smart and pound foolish. For another $10 bucks a year you can buy something a lot more effective.

hardluk1
March 24, 2012, 07:02 PM
Georgia arms new 9MM 124gr+p. better price great speer bullet at a price thats hard to better

JRH6856
March 24, 2012, 07:05 PM
Shot placement is more important, this is of course true but in the context of this thread its pretty meaningless.

The day shot placement becomes meaningless in any context is the day I start carrying hand grenades for SD. :D

raubvogel
March 24, 2012, 07:33 PM
The day shot placement becomes meaningless in any context is the day I start carrying hand grenades for SD. :D

I thought hand grenades was just to help thinking, as Peter Griffin has demonstrated.

JRH6856
March 24, 2012, 07:57 PM
??? Who is Peter Griffin?

fatcat4620
March 24, 2012, 08:02 PM
You dont know who peter griffin is? Click link
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCMQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DWppV_l8gaYw&ei=qmBuT4L6L-Lo2QWBpOXxAQ&usg=AFQjCNHMtA4g1Jo8fcubFDdeU-bZusZ57g

JRH6856
March 24, 2012, 08:34 PM
Family Guy? Whatever. I've never watched that show. I may have watched the Simpsons once or twice.

mrvco
March 24, 2012, 10:06 PM
I'm with Cartman regarding "The Family Guy".

I bought enough Corbon 9mm +p SD ammo to load two mags and make sure it ran in my pistol. I didn't notice any difference in accuracy over my normal range ammunition at HD/SD distances, so I certainly don't feel compelled to spend a buck a round to practice with it.

Edit: And who came up with the logic that "shot placement" DOESN'T matter? Are they hoping that a really loud gun will be enough to scare away a BG?

JohnBiltz
March 24, 2012, 11:26 PM
The day shot placement becomes meaningless in any context is the day I start carrying hand grenades for SD. Its meaningless when its not in context. When the question is whether cheap ammo is as good to carry as quality ammo, then yes its pretty meaningless.

JRH6856
March 25, 2012, 06:29 AM
When the question is whether cheap ammo is as good to carry as quality ammo, then yes its pretty meaningless.

The OPs question did not ask about "cheap" ammo. He asked about "budget defense" ammo. In order to even be considered as defense ammo, it must be demonstrated to be functional and reliable so questions of charge consistency and unfired primers are not at issue.

With an acceptable level of manufacturing quality being necessary for consideration, the only relevant differences in defense ammo is pressure level, bullet design and performance. And shot placement is certainly withing the context of bullet performance.

hardluk1
March 25, 2012, 10:52 AM
When a guy shows up at the ER and has 7 45acp bullet holes going in then out and he not only lives but nothing vital was hit and goes home in 4 days shot placement is everything. Watch this on a real live er show. No bs or actors. all 45 acp fmj

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