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Concealed carry ammo.....?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by the Black Spot, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Well-Known Member

    Do the authorities frown on using handloaded ammo? Is there a chance of less repercussions if I use factory ammo?
  2. jeepnik

    jeepnik Well-Known Member

    Several "experts" advise against it. Yet, none seems to be able to point to an incident where it mattered.

    My personal feeling is stay with factory. Two reasons, factory is generally more reliable (I reload and have probably had equal number of failures with both factory and reload) and, why give the other peoples lawyer a leg to stand on.
  3. golden

    golden Well-Known Member

    Stick with factory


    There has been a lot of talk on this subject. The basic arguement against handloads comes down to two points:

    1. Handloads are not as reliable as factory ammo. I accept this argument for the most part. If you are a handloader who is very meticulous, then it might not be relevant.

    2. The legal argument is based on the possibility of you getting criminally tried for using handloads by an opportunist district attorney looking for headlines. If you think this is unlikely, just remember all the lawsuits that Elliot SPITZER filed in N.Y.
    In one case in Miami that became pretty famous, a police officer was tried twice by the state. When the case was finally won in the state, the federal government stepped in and moved the case out of state for a civil rights trial. In the end, the officer was cleared, but went through hell.
    The other arguement is that you might be sued civilly. This has a real possibility, especially if the incident gains noteriety.

    A very valid question to ask, is what can you do with a handload than cannota be done just as well, if not better with factory ammo. What bullet can you load that is not available in factory ammo?
    As a handloader, you do not have access to the powder mixing facilities that the factories have, so you are very unlikely to exceed factory velocity without raising pressures well above factory ammo.
    Also, some brands of factory ammo use flash suppressant powders, will you be able do the same?

    In the end, I do not see any advantage in carrying handloads in a defense gun.

  4. shafter

    shafter Well-Known Member

    It probably doesn't matter but why take a chance?
  5. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    There are several things that MAY be used against you by an overzealous prosecutor.

    In a perfect world, no it wouldn't matter. What kind of ammo or by whom it was made should not be a factor in determining whether or not you used reasonable force. But our world is far from perfect. A D.A. looking to make a name for himself might get creative. If you carry the same ammo your local cops carry, you were trying to play cop and looking for a chance to shoot someone. If you carry something else, you were negligent in using unproven, less effective ammo. If you carry factory defensive ammo, you were using evil, devastating hollow-point ammunition that is intended to inflict damage so inhumane, THE MILITARY WON'T EVEN USE IT.

    They can throw a spin on anything they want to. Most of the conventional wisdom says to use premium factory defensive ammo. But I also think there is something to Clint Smith's advice; "Survive first, deal with the legal consequences afterward." Surviving a defensive shooting is the SECOND worst thing that can ever happen to you. You will likely face life-changing financial and legal consequences no matter what.
  6. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Well-Known Member

    The only reason for searching for good handload would be if factory was not accurate enough. The only factory stuff I could afford would be federal 200 lswc-hp, win silverrtip, and speer gold dot hp 200 gr.
  7. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Well-Known Member

    I read of one. It was a case in which a woman whose husband had often left a handgun loaded with a lighter-recoiling handload (.38 Special) out for her to have access to. The night came when she attempted suicide. The method was not declared in the account I read. He locked the gun, and all his others, away, and she got treatment.

    A few years later, she had seemed "back to normal" for quite some time, and expressed another desire to have a gun available for her defense when she was home alone. Her husband, according to the account, again put out the revolver, loaded with a light handload, for her availability.

    He came home one night to find her with the gun, according to his account, in a suicidal position with it, and tried to get it from her. It fired, and she was killed.

    He was charged with her death, and the ammunition remaining in the gun was cited as evidence. Because some of it was loaded in cases marked "+P", that was the factory ammunition load it was ballistically compared to in the trial proceedings. His pleas for investigators and the prosecutor to examine the rest of his own handload stash fell on deaf ears; it was, after all, evidence "manufactured by the defendant."

    I cannot remember the sentence, but he was indeed convicted of at least a manslaughter charge.

    Part of what hung him up was the fact that the ammunition was "fabricated" by the defendant, presumably (for the prosecution) for the purpose of assuring his wife's death. I'm not sure if the outcome of the trial would have been different had the ammunition been factory-sourced. I don't see where it should have been, but the opportunity for the prosecutor to portray the defendant as having fashioned, in a sinister light, the death rounds himself, would have at least been eliminated.
  8. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    It's a red herring.
  9. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    At defendable (in court I mean) SD range, accuracy of the ammo one chooses is not the main point; just about any factory round will prove accurate enough. These days lots of purpose-built factory SD ammo is available, albeit expensive, so perhaps the court argument might be that an SD shot taken with handloaded ammo could only have been taken by a person who thinks factory ammo simply isn't deadly enough. That's preposterous, of course, but that wouldn't stop an aggressive prosecutor from saying it not jurors from buying it.

    As a handloader, one might consider loading with one of the reasonably priced factory rounds (this will not be a JHP vs FMJ post) for carry and a close ballistic duplicate handload for practice. There's little to demonstrate that $1.25/round SD bullets perform significantly better than budget JHPs of the same weight and velocity. The key is that your carry ammo must be reliable, and many argue that handloads are less so than factory rounds. My experience is different, as I have had a handful of factory rounds go click instead of bang, but none of my own loads has ever not gone bang.
  10. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

    my main question is.....unless you run around saying its hand loaded to every cop, detective and lawyer on the scene......how are they going to know?

    for the most part, hand loaded ammo looks exactly the same as factory ammo....and of all things they could be spending their time on, i dont see trying to figure out whether its hand loaded or not being one of them.
  11. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    Well, there will be multiple extractor marks on it for one thing. If it is VERY experienced brass, it will also be permanently discolored.

    And I should also add, if it is loaded the same was as commercial defensive ammo, I don't see how they could paint you as being irresponsible, but I could see how there could be difficulty in corroborating who fired what.
  12. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I do not believe handloads will cause you any legal problems because a good shoot is a good shoot and a bad one is very bad for you no matter what ammo you use. (only my opinion and I won't argue about it because it's my opinion)

    I don't believe using what the local PD uses will help you in a shoot because again, good shoot = good, bad shoot = very bad for you! (only my opinion and I won't argue about it because it's my opinion)

    I can not agree in any way factory ammo is more reliable than my reloads. While I have NEVER had a problem with one of my reloads I have had a failure to fire from factory ammo. Granted it was only 1 ever but that only proves my reloads are at least as reliable as factory ammo. I would trust my reloads over factory ammo any day...
  13. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

    The odds of complications arising from the use of handloaded or reloaded ammunition in an SD shoot are slim. The consequences are potentially very, very grave, though. The case mentioned above involving the light .38 Spl loads and suicidal wife is the case of Daniel Bias. There's an article on it by Massad Ayoob available on the web. I think that Ayoob's article was for American Handgunner, if that will help you find it.

    There are a few points that almost invariably crop up in these discussions, so I'll go ahead and address a couple of them now:
    1) "No one has ever been convicted of using handloads." -- True, but a red herring. Of course no one's ever been convicted of using handloads. That's because it's not illegal. That does not mean that the use of handloads in an SD shooting could not significantly complicate your defense.

    2) "Does that mean that I should not add night sights, have a trigger job done, or otherwise modify my carry gun?" -- No, but there may be other reasons to avoid modifying a carry gun. The problems involved with using handloads have to with: (1) expert testimony, (2) exemplar evidence, (3) the possibility of needing said expert to testify on the subject of gun shot residue (GSR), and (4) the distance from the shooter to the target. While there may be reasons to avoid certain modifications to a carry gun, those reasons are separate and unrelated to the issues implicated by the use of handloads.

    3) "A good shoot is a good shoot." -- That sounds good, but the legal reality is that a good shoot is only a good shoot after a bunch of people like police, a prosecuting attorney, perhaps a judge and jury have looked at the evidence and agree with the shooter that the shoot was good.

    Some time ago, I began compiling all of the threads that I could find on this issue over on The Firing Line. Those threads can be found at An Archive Regarding Reloads and Self-Defense.
  14. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    I found one court case where a single juror opined after the trial about the ammo.


    So yes, there IS documented evidence.
    However scant, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

    And this juror was disturbed by the type of bullets Fish used.

    Elliot: The whole hollow point thing bothered me. That bullet is designed to do as much damage as absolutely possible. It’s designed to kill.
  15. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I don't concern myself with the legal issues, as stated good shoot is good shoot, period. This is also something I have addressed with a firearm legal expert that represents both the defense and the prosecution concerning firearm related court proceedings. His take on it was to use what you feel is most reliable. For me that is a hand loaded .357 mag 158 gr. Gold Dot with a full tilt H110 powder charge, works for me.

    As for reliability, I have experienced mis-fires with factory ammo, but in over 30 yrs. of reloading I have not had one single failure of any type with my own handloads in any cartridge I load.

  16. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Well-Known Member

    Hondo, his issue was about the use of "hollow-point" bullets, which both the media and the prosecutor's office have trained him only the most diabolical, sinister-minded people would ever load their guns with. But, I saw no mention of them being handloaded.
    Hollow-point bullets (and rounds in bigger calibers "than most cops carry") have been demonized in many self-defense cases, far more than handloads have. That's a whole 'nother discussion.
  17. Drail

    Drail Well-Known Member

    After having seen new boxes of factory ammo with primers inserted backwards and/or no flash hole in the case I have NO faith in factory ammo anymore. I will only carry ammo that I KNOW is going to fire when I need it to. If that means I have to make it myself then it's a no brainer as far as I am concerned. I shot handloads for quite a few years in competition and NEVER had one of my handloads fail.
  18. markallen

    markallen Well-Known Member

    Same here, after thirty plus years of reloading, I have NEVER had a failure with the ammo I loaded.
    I have had issues with factory ammo, such as hangfires, and a couple of squibs. Which are some of the reasons I started loading in the first place.
    I carry what I know will work if and when I need it to work. That is why I carry my reloads.
  19. JERRY

    JERRY Well-Known Member

    when you say authorities, the cops dont care what ammo you use unless youre in new jersey or other restrictive locales. as far as the prosecutors that could make a difference in your initial hearing whether you are tried for some sort of "criminal intent"....
  20. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    Ask Harold fish if a clean shoot is a clean shoot.

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