CCW concerns relating to ammo

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May 30, 2010
East Lansing MI Thunder.htm

BEFORE reading the above thread/article I would like to express some concerns as a CCW holder relating to those who want a CCW and who aspire towards higher caliber ammunition.
My side arm in the military was the .45. I love that handgun and actually have a Springfield Champion .45-feels good in my hand and is very accurate.

The battlefield is a place where the enemy is down range and if one fires downrange and kills two enemy with one round, well that's war. Down range is a free fire zone (with, of course, laws of engagement) but a free fire zone nevertheless.

As a civilian, one to three perps are surrounded by a population of innocent bystanders including parked cars, houses, business fronts, etc,. The "battlefield" is changed and "down range" is loaded with potential targets which could be hit accidently.

In my CCW class, the range of engagement was 10 yards; anything beyond that is not a realistic engagement zone. Furthermore, the CCW instructor wanted us to use .38 or less (most had .38, some .380) to emphasize the use of weapon control during the live fire exercise.

Seems reasonable enough seeing that the instructor earlier emphasized that a round can travel one mile. Accountability of a round is very important.

Here, on this site, I see quite a lot of enthusiasm about getting a CCW, and in some cases, a cavalier approach towards getting a CCW and the leaning towards heavier caliber ammunition.

Over penetration. That is a danger with a civilian "battlefield". The civilian "battlefield" is frought with legal implications during a situation in which one has to defend against lethal force.

(Now you can read the article).

The article does not mean I prefer .380 ammo; however, as I stated above, engagement of a threat will be 10 yards or less. Longer distance increases the chance of a miss exponentially thus losing accountability of a round.

As my CCW trainer told us, practice, practice practice at the range with targets 10 yards or less will make one very proficient. The number of rounds per month to practice with was illustrated as 300 per month.

The type of ammunition, thus is quite important. The article mentions some types of .380 ammo which can deliver adequate penetration with the key relating to the size of the hollow point diameter increasing wound channel but stopping due to its mushrooming effect.

After getting my CCW, I had a sobering realization of the new "battlefield" which comes with being a civilian and a CCW holder. I would very much regret to see another innocent bystander injured or killed during a legitimate shootout. The civilian "battlefield" has, as its main protector the police, and I must emphasize that CCW holders are not police. I got my CCW initially because I wanted the freedom to either carry my weapon to the range or put it in my car versus in the trunk. As a retired military person, I wanted more freedom to have my weapon close at hand and not be hampered by rules. As a military person I developped a healthy respect for weapons and understand their potential for lethal harm. I'm not opposed to those here who want to get a CCW but I want them to understand how critical it is to select the right weapon and right ammunition in what I call the "civilian battlefield". As CCW holders, we have an obligation, a duty to do what is right and legal to include assessing the "battlefield" to avoid collateral injury, death or property damage. A CCW is not something one should approach with a cavalier attitude. Proper research, and careful selection of weapons and ammo is critical.

Is bigger caliber ammo better? Again, the type of ammunition should be carefully examined relating to over penetration. Your most important backup to your weapon is your cell phone-call 911 if you see a threat which is too far or not practical to engage. You are not police. Defend yourself, but be aware of your surroundings at all time.
Actually, 95%+ of your SD shootings will be at 10 FEET or less, RARELY will there be one at 10 yards.

A "threat" that is "too far" is not a threat. And yes, YOU are responsible for every bullet you set to flight.

This is one of the reasons I believe that the "Judge" -does- fit the SD niche rather nicely. At 10 feet a load of 000 buckshot is, at the very least, going to be -very- discouraging to any assailant .... but it's power dissipates rather quickly with distance. That 9mm+P or 45 acp you send skipping out through the neighborhood is going to be deadly for quite a distance.

You also get a small pattern rather than a single projectile, which increases your chances of getting a hit overall ... and increases your chances of hitting something vital over a single projectile.
Another one of those "it does this in ballistic gelatin", this is how it will go elsewhere. In a real life situation, your chances of "aiming small" are thin to none, and the chances of penetrating (depending on weather and local) unknown thickness of garments. Then the question of bone comes into play, since the ideal (thoracic region) is well guarded from the preferred shot. And with that being said, my training is training is to shoot until the threat ceases, and my bet is that my goal will be reached sooner with a larger caliber.

I am in no way recommending a round that will pass through my target and into a bystander, nor one that will travel through several walls. however, I don't think you should limit yourself by any prejudice and prepare for each day and eventuality differently.

Middle of summer, shorts and t-shirts at most locations my choice is a 9mm. Evening out or cooler weather calling for two or more layers of garment, I like the 45 or a .38. And finally in cold weather, with heavy jackets and or a possible hostel environment, it'll be a .357.

Always carry safe but carry well.
,357- best choice 125 grain jacketed hollow point.
However I like 38+P in my .357/.38 - Cor Bon 38+P 125 gr JHP (jacketed hollow point) - ; with the .357, as a side concern to my post, a potential loss of shot placement control after repetitive shots unless one is extremely proficient with the .357. Again, practice, practice, practice. Target .38 is less expensive thus, my choice of 39+P as listed.
.380 is not to be brushed away- again, Cor Bon 90 gr JHP is the best choice for the .380-and again, the range will be 10 feet or less thus effective.
My point is that most people will not practice 300 plus rounds a month. Myself, I see consistency with the .38 at the range with extremely tight patterns versus the .357 which starts to spread as more shots are fired.
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A well placed shot of a .45acp hollow point is just as safe as a .380 hp and poses no more danger to whats behind the bad guy either even if over penetration happens.

It can take more well placed shots from a .380 to stop a BG than 1 or 2 well placed shots from a .45acp

I think your trying to get across the point of accountability for our actions in a SD situation, Which i fully understand. But imo the caliber has very little to do with that.
Good ammo and practice will be your best defense in stopping collateral damage.

I can promise you my 1911 can place shots better and faster than most mouse guns shooting .380 rounds, Even with larger sized .380's like some of the Bersa's are.
You should be talking to the guys shooting LCP's and P3AT's that kick like mules and require lots of practice which most don't get to help keep that little gun under control for follow up shots which most will need with a .380 caliber gun.
In my CCW class, the range of engagement was 10 yards; anything beyond that is not a realistic engagement zone. Furthermore, the CCW instructor wanted us to use .38 or less (most had .38, some .380) to emphasize the use of weapon control during the live fire exercise.

This is really concerning that an instructor gave this information. They are incorrect. It doesn't matter what the range of engagement is, as you said yourself a bullet can go at least a mile. It doesn't matter at that point how far the threat is, you have a bullet going much farther.

With this in mind, bullet selection in the city vs. warzone is no different to me.

I'll stick with .45
Yo, my instructor just wanted to conduct a safe, realistic live fire and I have no problem with that. Accountability was stressed relating to his comment that a bullet can travel one mile.
As far as the .45, Das, I have found through my military career that I was accurate with it.

Legal accountability was also stressed in the class. The point of my original post gravitates around that legal concept relating to the right type of ammo to use.

My example of the .357 125gr JHP is such an example: the round will stop after entry. I think selection of the right type of ammo related to the environment is important, especially keeping the legal fallout which could occur.
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Guys, guys, guys, when you pull that hog-leg out of concealment, you are now in the land of possible legal fallout. So with that truth, let's just from here on decide if we want to accept the legal possibilities, or should we just leave the gun at home. If we are going to carry the thing and are going to be prepared to use it, then should we not place all odds on our side. The odds say that the 45 acp 185 grain hp or the 357 using 125 grain hp will give best stopping authority with the min of overpenetration. The minute that trigger is squeezed, you are in for legal fallout. So why don't we just concentrate on making sure the primary job is done as well as possible. In my mind, that is one shot, one kill. Stop the threat, and don't worry about overkill. Deal with any fallout later. Or, as stated in the beginning, leave the gun at home so there is no chance of legal fallout.

Of course, I'm a hunter and have always believed in using enough calibre to make sure the job is done well with little chance of loosing wounded game. Calm nerves from practice, proper shot placement, and more than enough shot power will always insure a successful hunt. I see no reason to downsize for reasons of personal protection.
So then am I to believe then that every police department in America should be carrying 380 or 22? They function in the same battlefield I do. They encounter the same targets I might. Granted their odds of encountering a lethal force situation is substantially higher than mine. They also are more likely to have strength in numbers (multiple officers responding) than I am every going to have.

Point is, IMO, the instructor is wrong. If 380 was all that is needed and anything above it is unsafe, why would virtually every police department across the country carry 9mm, 40, or 45?
Gouranga, I never suggested the .380 an ideal ammunition. The link was just an illustration relating to the potential of a .380 providing, as later suggested, the proper ammunition, Cor Bon 90 gr JHP, again, as an illustration providing the target is 10 feet or less.
My point relating to this discussion is to point out that the proper ammunition should be considered as a CCW holder when confronted with a civilian like environment in which bystanders, houses, cars, property exists. The instructor wanted either .38 or .380 for the live fire-he was not suggesting .380 for personal use. The choice of caliber for the live fire was a safety issue only.
Read #8 again.
As I also stated, my favorite caliber is the .45; that is one I'm most familiar with.
boykins2, yes legal fallout is always possible, if not probable even if one is right, even if one is injured and the threat killed. That was clearly illustrated by a detective friend many years ago before I even considered applying for a CCW.
There are two aspects to hitting an innocent bystander. The first is pass-through, or the "over penetration" of the intended target. The other is the risk of hitting an unintended target rather than the intended one. The latter is probably a much more likely cause.

Regarding the former, the use of JHPs and avoiding the use of loads with excessive penetration are both reasonable mitigation strategies.

Regarding the former, proper practice and the selection of a handgun with which one can reliably hit the intended target are key.

"Proper" practice in this context does not mean repetition of slow aimed shots at a bullseye at a range. A good defensive pistol course can provide basic instruction and initial skills development for shooting in the kind of scenario envisioned by the OP.

Invariably, that involves very fast repetitive shots on multiple torso-sized targets, usually at seven yards.

A handgun that does not lend itself to that kind of shooting is something to avoid if possible. If you attend one of these sessions, you will note the complete absence both very compact handguns and magnums. Service-sized semi-autos with large capacity magazines, chambered for 9MM and .40 S&W, are the most common.

That a lot of flash and thunder at the muzzle will make for a better defensive weapon is a natural assumption, but it is important to realize that stopping an assailant is dependent on adequate penetration and on hitting parts of the body that will stop the assailant, and that that may well not happen on the first shot.

This FBI report is worth reading:

Some relevant excerpts:

...shootings are characterized by their sudden, unexpected occurrence; by rapid and unpredictable movement of both officer and adversary; by limited and partial target opportunities; by poor light and unforeseen obstacles; and by the life or death stress of sudden, close, personal violence. Training is quite properly oriented towards "center of mass" shooting. ... Proper shot placement is a hit in the center of that part of the adversary which is presented, regardless of anatomy or angle.

Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed "shock" of bullet impact is a fable and "knock down" power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding.

Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet.

The one shot stop is a very illusory goal; most handgun chamberings used by the police departments have adequate penetration, and unless one is hunting game, more will not help and is wasted; and too much recoil simply works against the objective of getting multiple hits on target very quickly--in a very small fraction of a second, in fact.

Choosing a weapon with that (1) is controllable--that has a decent grip and trigger pull and that does not recoil too severely; (2) gives sufficient, but not excessive, penetration; and (3) holds an adequate number of rounds to provide for misses and/or multiple attackers, is a necessary step one. Step two is being able to use it. Both are necessary both (1) to increase the odds of stopping an assailant or two before you are harmed and (2) to reduce risks to innocent third parties.

There has been a lot of discussion in this thread about "legal fallout." Yes, there is the issue of civil liability. Yes, it an be very serious. Personally, however, I just don't want to harm or kill an innocent person, civil liability aside. Nor do I want an assailant to harm me.
The last man killed in the line of duty, in my line of work, was shot in the back of the head at point blank range. The bullet passed through his skull into the arm of an innocent bystander holding a six month old child. The bystander lived and the child was unhurt. The perps had no concern for where their rounds went and celebrated that night at Red Lobster.:fire::fire:I guess the logic for carry is different with different instructors. Our range instructor believes if you must gun fight, bring enough gun. As a civilian with an element of surprise enough gun may be a mouse gun. When someone comes up with the handgun which instantly morps from .22 to .45 and all calibers in between depending on need, they will exceed Bill Gates in wealth.
I think the factor that is being left out here is the fact that the stopping power is absolutely needed.
While it would be terribly unfortunate (and I know it would haunt me personally, for the rest of my life) if an innocent bystandard was hurt, the fact remains that if I'm having to draw my gun, my target has to be a serious problem.
Chances are he's going to either be crazed, doped up, or have a weapon of his own which, if it happens to be a firearm, I don't think he's going to take the penetration of his caliber of choice and his accuracy into consideration when trying to hurl rounds at me or my loved ones.

The faster that said threat it neutralized, the better.
But at the same rate, I don't think that you should carry a .50 around with you either.
.45 is a suitable caliber for self defense, and if you're worried about penetration, carry Glaser Safety Slugs.
Furthermore, the CCW instructor wanted us to use .38 or less...

...and that's the last thing I heard as I picked up my Blackberry to search for knowledgeable instructors.
Eddie (my gosh how many time do I have to repeat myself here!!) the instructor was very capable AND as I said earlier, it was a safety issue he had included in his live fire exercise.
He was the instructor. The class was excellent and covered everything one needed to know.
So please, don't judge someone without having been there!
Onsidian I agree with you-again, choice of ammo and, shooting skill.
Kleanbore good post.
Your concerns for over-penetration are simply a good argument for JHP. Shooting ball ammo in any of the major calibers does warrant over-penetration concerns. JHP - not so much.

.45 ACP 230 gr JHP for me, thank you.

Your comment regarding cavalier attitudes towards CCW is relevant. I detect such attitudes from some - definitely not the majority - on many forums. That stated though, if someone who didn't know me well were to hear me discuss CCW in an off-handed way, they would probably think I was too cavalier as well.
The civilian "battlefield" has, as its main protector the police,

This is definitely incorrect. The police are not hired to protect us. They are hired to enforce the law - that means that they show up at crime scenes and investigate them and catch criminals. They are under no obligation to protect anyone. They carry their sidearms to protect themselves. When they go on the offensive, they take long guns.

You and you alone are responsible for your protection.

Anything that has adequate penetration to stop someone will have the power to pass through a human torso front to back, legs, arms, 7-10 layers of drywall (yes, that's pretty much across an entire house). We are responsible to a) hit what we are aiming at, b) pick ammo that will stop an attacker in the most humane way with the least number of rounds needed and the safest design possible (ie, reduced risk of ricochet). This dictates a good sized expanding hollow point bullet going pretty fast.

I don't see how any of the major normal calibers are irresponsible. After all the police do use all of the major calibers, and it's to the sheriff's advantage to pick something reasonable.
The idea that there will be a bunch of innocent bystanders around to be hit by your return fire when the bad guy threatens you is a real stretch. BG's do their thing when you're ALONE. They pick isolated victims.

It is very rare for bystanders to be hit by the good guys, whether the good guys are police or civilians.

Regarding bullet effectiveness I offer this:

1989 FBI study
Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness
Eddie (my gosh how many time do I have to repeat myself here!!) the instructor was very capable AND as I said earlier, it was a safety issue he had included in his live fire exercise.

What is he advocating? Carry nothing more powerful than a .38?

Was he limiting the class to .38 or smaller due to range restrictions?

Did he feel an accident with a .38 or less would have less devastating consequences?

If the first, so long. If the second, I would be concerned about his choice of training location. No comment if the third.

Train with what you carry and, if possible, carry something superior to what is normally considered minimum.

Either way, not someone I would seek instruction from.
.38 would be the smallest caliber that I would even consider carrying as a self-defense round, and then only if for some reason a 9mm, .40 or .45 wasn't available. Considering all of the possible scenarios, your best defense is to practice, practice and practice even more with whatever your choice of firearm might be. And not slow paced target shooting, I agree, although you obviously need to know where your firearm is hitting before progressing further in advanced training. If you hit where you want to hit, under pressure, then missing your target is not as great a concern as if you buy a gun, shoot it twice a year and the rest of the time it sits in a holster or on a table. I read a lot of posts about people crying about the round passing through and hitting an innocent. There are a lot of valid points being brought out, that most of the time the BG's don't confront in front of witnesses if possible, which is usually a fact. If whatever you are shooting passed completely through the person you are firing at, then at what speed will it continue to go? I haven't yet stumbled upon that set of facts yet, probably because there are just too many variables to consider. For me it comes down to what am I willing to risk in order to be able to protect myself. Certainly it would upset me greatly if I injured or killed an innocent bystander. Could I live with it? If I had done everything in my power to prepare myself, to hone my skills to the best of my ability, then yes, I would count it as an unavoidable happening and feel very free to place the blame for all of it squarely on the head of the thug.
Eddie, I stated earlier that our instructor did not care what caliber we carried upon CCW license. It was just a safety issue at his live fire exercise which he requested to include proper firing technique and accuracy which is better attained with a smaller caliber.
That's all. He had no reservations relating to what people would carry upon getting their CCW.

His instruction was excellent, he is a certified instructor, his instruction was to the point and took 2 days to complete, including legal and live fire.
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