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How Did You Choose Your Defensive Handgun Ammunition?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Stephen A. Camp, Oct 3, 2003.

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  1. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Hello. I'm just curious here, but how did you determine your top pick or picks in defensive handgun ammo for either your auto or revolver?

    I'll post my reasons a bit later.

    Best and thanks in advance for taking the time to reply.

    PS: I hesitated to post this as I've seen so many arguments get started over related issues. I would personally appreciate it if we'd state our own reasons and not attack anyone having a different viewpoint on this. Frequently there is more than one "right" answer to some questions. Thanks again.
  2. blades67

    blades67 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Mesa, Arizona, USA
    I load my own carry ammo. I use a Gold Dot bullet because it is accurate and effective.

    I used to carry Federal Hydra-Shoks for those reasons as well.
  3. who me

    who me Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    I carry Georgia Arms Gold Dot, because the bullet seems to have good reviews. I do want to try some Winchester Ranger T's or some Power Ball though.
  4. MikeJ

    MikeJ Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    I base my selection upon the majority of information that favors a particular round. For example; in 9mm I carry 124 grain Speer Gold Dot because it seems highly favored by nearly every piece of information I have found. In .40 S&W I use the Remington 165 grain Golden Saber and in .38+P I use the 125 grain Speer Gold Dot. I believe that there are a variety of quality choices in defensive ammo out there and I could be content with others but these are my current choices. I also believe that the most important defensive criteria is to hit what you are aiming at and that has replaced my obsession with one shot stops etc.
  5. sm

    sm member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    I took note of various sources, LEO, catalogs, shooters with more experience, then when the internet became a resource, I used it. I considered the enviroment ( house, apt., street, ofc setting, critter control).

    In semi's I went for reliabile everytime,, in that gun, then POA/POI, I shot dirt/mud. I shot at vehicles (doors, windshields/ back glass[includes steep angles like trans am] drywall, exterior /interior...etc.

    In revolvers I did the same, reliabilty again number one , POA/POI .

    I consider shot placement to be critical, bullet has to disharge, and be on target, I hope the expansion works...but just in case...

    I have my preferences that seem to work in a variety of platforms. When I find what works in a particular gun, I keep on hand that and others I know works. ( more than one brand).I just grab what is handy from a known performer.

    Personally: on semis I run a min of 500 rds to test, at least 250 on revos.

    FWIW I do similar testing for shotgun and rifles.

    Yeah and there is this Stephen A. Camp fella that does some great reviews on guns and ammo...great pics of guns and targets...might check him out ;)

    Another brain I pick is that of WESHOOT2
  6. Vic303

    Vic303 Member

    May 14, 2003
    I will base my decision mostly on what HP feeds flawlessly in my pistol.
  7. boing

    boing Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    I wanted reliability first, which means shooting large quantities of the selected load, which means economy comes into play.

    Expansion used to matter most to me, but I got over it. Function testing premium loads is costly, and even then expansion isn't a given.

    Make a hole where and when I want, every time. If the load does that, I'm happy.
  8. Snaps

    Snaps Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    I went with SXT because 1, I don't load 9mms, and 2 it was suggested when I bought the gun. I've never had anyproblems with it. I did however have 1, just 1 misfeed with some cheap ammo that I was plinking with.

    In closing, comes suggested, works well, I'm happy:D
  9. 38Mike

    38Mike Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    In my 442, Win. 158gr LSWC-HP +P, it's the most accurate load in my particular gun....so I guess accuracy is the reason. :cool:
  10. caz223

    caz223 Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    SW Michigan
    I want to buy a G29, just so I can use the awesome 135 grain 10mm defensive ammo from double tap.
  11. Moparmike

    Moparmike Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Oddly enough, a downwardly-plunging firey handbask
    [deep southern accent in a "Deliverance" scary sort of way...]

    Ah shot differnt feriners and tresspassers with differnt ammo, and which ever was deader was the won Ah choosed.. Yessiree Bob, I sure did.:D :rolleyes:


    Actually, I havent yet. I will do alot of reading, but still end up choosing WinRanger/Black Talon. If its good enough to do its job and scare the bilssninnies at the same time, its good enough for me.:cool: :D
  12. Hal

    Hal Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    N.E. Ohio
    - Read reviews.
    - Read test results.
    - Used M&S "one shot stop data".
    - Asked questions.
    - Asked opinions.
    - Sifted through it all and distilled it down to a few "good choices".
    - Tried some of the "best" prospects.
    - Settled on the ones that delivered a magazine full - sub 2X caliber holes @ 15 to 20 feet fired offhand in my guns.
    (For .45acp that amounts to sub one inch - for .22lr that amounts to sub half inch etc.)
    - keep (make that hoard) a sufficient quantity of specific lots of specific choices as strict defensive rounds that perform better than the above.
    Kudos to you Steve for posting range reports. Add me to the list of those that use your data. I'm particularly partial to the unscientific mud eexpansion test because you generally include retained weights in them.
  13. Rock45

    Rock45 Member

    May 28, 2003
    North Central Florida
    Well, I started out by spending a small fortune trying different cartridges in my pistols, landing on the ones that were reliable and accurate.

    Then I try to duplicate that load as close as possible with available bullets and powder.

    So far I have found Speer's Gold Dots to work very well, I don't have any guns that won't feed them.

    I have a very scientific method of determining a given bullet's effects on a human subject...(holding bullet under magnifier) "Oh, yea, that's gonna hurt ya"!

  14. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    Louisiana, USA
    I tend to have both faith in and reservations about both "schools" of bullet performance (Fackler and Marshall & Sanow). Both have excellent points to make: both disregard some important factors. However, when both sides say that a particular load performs well according to their specific preferences, I tend to think that that load has to be fairly good in general terms. For this reason, I try to pick carry loads that "score" well in both sets of criteria. In .40 S&W, this has been Remington Golden Saber 165gr. JHP; in .45 ACP, the same round in 185gr. +P; in 9mm., a +P or +P+ 115gr. hollowpoint from Cor-Bon or Federal (depending on what's available - most recently, I stocked up on a few hundred rounds of Cor-Bon); in .357 Magnum, Winchester 145gr. Silvertip JHP; in .38 Special, I stick with the old FBI load.

    Also as a result of both sets of criteria (and based on a lot of street experience), I don't carry "mouseguns", so I don't have to worry about which minor load works best! :D

    I also have access to a fairly large number of LE post-shooting reports and analyses. These are used for general information, but it's striking that they tend to lean rather more to the Marshall & Sanow side of things - in terms of the effectiveness of given rounds in actual shootings reflecting theory - than the Fackler side of the argument. This has influenced my "weighting" of the respective schools, in the sense that if I'm picking an effective load, I'll allow a 60% weighting to M&S, and a 40% weighting to Fackler and his disciples.
  15. Smoke

    Smoke Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Bosque County, Texas
    Exactly. All else is fluff.
  16. STEVE M

    STEVE M Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Read all I could from multiple sources, function tested, found out what

    LEO's were using and WHY, keeped reading to see what was a fad and

    what was really working, tested some more. Tried to find someone who

    said my ammo was bad so I could see their reasoning (couldn't), made

    sure I could duplicate POA/POI and felt recoil with published handloads.

    Function tested some more.

    In the end, I wound up with Fed 230GR Hydrashoks.
  17. The Reverend

    The Reverend Member

    Jul 16, 2003
    Cape Coral, FL
    My Preferences...

    My priorities for all of my defensive weapons are these (in order):

    1. Reliability

    2. Accuracy

    3. Shootability (ie fast follow up)

    4. Bullet Design

    5. No Abusive Loads

    In my own search for the "best" all around loads for my defensive handguns, I have endeavored to use the KISS principle. In 9mm, my SIGs and my Kahr E9 really perform well with Federal's 9BP load (115gr. JHP). I have never had a single FTF with this load from my SIGs and since my Kahr has been properly adjusted by the manufacturer, it now performs flawlessly as well. Accuracy is very well regulated with me doing my part. Because it is not a powerhouse load it is not overly abusive on the hardware and really fast, and really accurate follow ups are realistic.

    In .45 I use Federal's 230gr. Hydra-Shok in both my 4506-1 and 4516-2.

    In .357 magnum Winchester's 110gr. magnum load for the GP-100.

    Finally in .38 Federal's 125gr. Nyclad load in the Taurus 85.

    God Bless
  18. standingbear

    standingbear Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    I started with garden variety(excuse the pun) things of various thicknessess(melons,cucumbers ect) then placed plywood,old wet tree stumps,old appliances ect. behind it and checked to see what was going on with penetration.id hunted groundhogs on occasion with the loads i felt comfortable with from those results and tested them as well.i tried 3 different calibers(357,9mm,45acp) and settled on 357 mag. for overall defensive and sporting handgunning.i weighted ammo costs,recoil and accuracy(in a sense that distances..) in this too.
  19. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Great topic.

    I started out just using Nosler 127-gr. Handloads, and they performed alright, but I thought that I'd keep looking. So at the local sporting goods store, I found a box of Hornady XTPs, and decided to give them a try.

    So, the next time I went shooting, my buddy brought a bunch of cans of old beets that were no longer good, so that became our test medium. He began by shooting one with a shotgun just for kicks, and needless to say, it exploded all over the place. I shot another with my Noslers. The result was that the can moved some, the front splitting wide open, and a small exit hole. The next I shot with a Hornady XTP, and the following explosion of beets looked almost exactly like the shotgun-blast. Beets went flying in every direction, in about a 15 foot radius, and the can was opened up flat.

    Not scientific by any means, but according to other little "test" that I've done like that, the XTP performs marvelously.

    Of course, I'm not done looking. I'm going to go try some Winchester SXT and Winchester White-Box JHPs next range trip, and so on.

  20. New_comer

    New_comer Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Manila, Phils.
    I got acquainted with the most potent defensive cartridges through research in various gun fora...

    TFL, THR, Ammolab, 1911, and recently Glocktalk all were very informative...

    Also, I give very high regard to the opinions of my favorite gun writers, one of them is a fellow named Stephen B. Camp... ;)
  21. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    At The Range
    I went to the local Wal-Mart, and bought one box of each 9mm hollow point that they had. I then pulled out my Glock 17 and shot each type of ammo off of a benchrest at 25 yards to find the most accurate load. I then shot each load off hand at 25 yards. I go for reliability first, then accuracy. To test the terminal ballistics (very unscientific test), I soaked a bunch of big city phone books in a trash can full of water overnight, and then shot each load and checked the slugs for penetration and expansion. No one load really shined above the others, so I carry the Winchester white box 115 grain JHP most of the time. It is accurate, shoots to the same point of impact as the Winchester value paks, and in my informal testing will do anything the fancy loads will do for half the price. Also, THR contains about a million years of experience that can't be bought at any store for any price :).

    Just my .02,
  22. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I use 180gr FMJ .40 S&W...

    If I'm in my house they ain't gonna penetrate brick so I don't worry about shootin' the neighbors. If it's outside and bullets are flyin' then anyone in the area better be smart enough to hit the dirt, get the hell out of the way or get the hell out of dodge. Besides if I'm outside and have to pull my gun to defend myself (which I hope to GOD never ever happens) you better believe I'm gonna be more concerned about my hide than some bystander's hide (selfish attitude? yeah - but when it's all over hopefully I'm the one that will be left standin').

    180gr FMJ's definitely will make a big hole in a BG and if they go all the way thru him/her then there's two holes for blood to leak out of instead of one.

    I've heard all the reasons why folks wanna use HP's for HD and some are quite valid - but when push comes to shove I'm gonna use a bullet I know will go in and maybe come out the other side regardless of what the BG is doing or wearing.

    That's my story and I'm stikin' to it!
  23. Oracle

    Oracle Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Austell, GA
    I trust the information presented at Ammolab.com, as they are very clear about how they do their testing and why they do it that way. So, I look at the bullet pictures and information presented there, see how each load expanded and penetrated, and then function test in my handguns.

    I've settled on Winchester white box USA9JHP 115gr. 9mm, for the same reasons as Mr. Carr. It's inexpensive, it both expands and penetrates as well as the more expensive premium ammo, and, at less than $11 per 50 at Wal-Mart, I can afford to stock up and do a serious function test on my handguns (200 rds. each, minimum). The fact that it hits to the same POA as Winchester 115 gr. 9mm value pack ammo is also a big plus, as that is my practice load.
  24. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    S.E. PA, USA
    I carry either a Smith 640 or a Ruger SP101 and use the FBI load in each. Controlable, accurate and shoots to point of aim. It is the only ammo that I can think of that has close to 100% endorsement by all schools of thought. The only shortfall seems to be performance against heavily drapped (4 layers of denim) gelatin.

    My HD gun is a Beretta 92 with night sights loaded with Winchester White Box 147 grain JHP. Acccording to ammolab.com this round has good penetration and expansion against drapped gelatin. In my Beretta this round is reliable and accurate. The 147 grain 9mm seems to have a good street rep. in LA and San Diego.
  25. Zeke Menuar

    Zeke Menuar Member

    Jun 24, 2003
    Oregon Monsoon Central
    Federal 230gr Hydra-Shoks. Picked that ammo because it works flawlessly in my LW Commander. Shot an entire IPSC match to test the ammo in the Commander. An expensive test but the ammo and gun passed.
    Makes a big hole. Snuck up on a coyote at 50 yds and blew away most of his rear end. Convinced me!.
    Both of my CCW instructors and every gun-rag article I have ever read put 230gr Hydra-Shoks at the top of the defensive ammo list.

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