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A poor man's defensive handgun ammo quandry

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by DBryant, Sep 25, 2011.

?

What would you do if you were in my situation?

Poll closed Oct 25, 2011.
  1. Shoot less.

    26 vote(s)
    30.2%
  2. Shoot ball for defensive ammo.

    30 vote(s)
    34.9%
  3. Shoot reloads for defensive ammo.

    30 vote(s)
    34.9%
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  1. DBryant

    DBryant Member

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    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?
     
  2. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  3. Ranger30-06

    Ranger30-06 Member

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    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! :)
     
  4. RussB

    RussB Member

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    I would trade or sell that 40 cal and buy a 9mm
     
  5. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Member

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    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.
     
  6. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    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.
     
  7. Old Shooter
    • Contributing Member

    Old Shooter Member

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    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.
     
  8. Pyro

    Pyro Member

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    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.
     
  9. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

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    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.
     
  10. DBryant

    DBryant Member

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    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.
     
  11. DBryant

    DBryant Member

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    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.
     
  12. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

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    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.
     
  13. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    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
     
  14. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Member

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    Shoot less or start shooting 9mm. 40 is good but 9 is still respectable and a lot cheaper.
     
  15. MrWesson

    MrWesson Member

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    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).
     
  16. MikeNice

    MikeNice Member

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    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.
     
  17. Mr.Blue

    Mr.Blue Member

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    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.
     
  18. DBryant

    DBryant Member

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    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.
     
  19. Mr.Blue

    Mr.Blue Member

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    I find it really made me a better shot and kept my grip strong.
     
  20. RussB

    RussB Member

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    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
     
  21. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Two more thoughts

    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
     
  22. The Watchman

    The Watchman Member

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    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?
     
  23. Tallinar

    Tallinar Member

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    <shrug> I practice with and carry lead handloads for my .44 special.
     
  24. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    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.
     
  25. Jorg Nysgerrig

    Jorg Nysgerrig Member

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    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.
     
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