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budget vs premiun defense ammo

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Tired_and_hungry, Mar 21, 2012.

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  1. Tired_and_hungry

    Tired_and_hungry Member

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    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?
     
  2. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Member

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    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
     
  3. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    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
     
  4. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    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.
     
  5. Remllez

    Remllez Member

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    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.
     
  6. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    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.
     
  7. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    Not a bad idea the Speer Gold Dot and Speer Lawman make fine duo.
     
  8. NOLAEMT

    NOLAEMT Member

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    I would disagree that cheap hollow points are always better than ball ammo. They can over expand or even fragment, leading to inadequate penetration.
     
  9. SHR970

    SHR970 Member

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    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.
     
  10. SHR970

    SHR970 Member

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    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.
     
  11. sirsloop

    sirsloop Member

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    I spend more time thinking about how I will effectively put the rounds down range :)
     
  12. jhco50

    jhco50 Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  13. Bassleg

    Bassleg Member

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    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.
     
  14. raubvogel

    raubvogel Member

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    I am surprised they do not come up with black painted ammo and call it tactical
     
  15. contactcole

    contactcole Member

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    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.
     
  16. thefamcnaj

    thefamcnaj Member

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    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
     
  17. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    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.
     
  18. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    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.
     
  19. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Member

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

    [​IMG]
     
  20. easyg

    easyg Member

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    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.
     
  21. Pyro

    Pyro Member

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    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....
     
  22. sargents1

    sargents1 Member

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    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.
     
  23. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    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.
     
  24. JohnBiltz

    JohnBiltz Member

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    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.
     
  25. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I vote budget. Get more rounds for your buck and practice.
     
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