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How do you really know which self defence ammo to choose

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by thefamcnaj, May 11, 2011.

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  1. thefamcnaj

    thefamcnaj Member

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    Hi fellow highroader's!
    I have: 9mm, 40 cal, and 45 cal hand guns, and my wife has the trusty ole 38 special. In all my caliber guns i carry hornady critical defence rounds. My wife carries the federal hydro shocks in her revolver. I also have some corbon power balls and some golden sabers. But for what ever reason i carry only the Critical Defence. I've read up on the ballistic reports, and watched people shoot the body gel( sorry guys the technical term is escaping me at the moment). I've even conducted my own NON SCIENTIFIC test, which was shooting phone books wrapped in denim. After conducting my little test i liked how the critical defence performed on the intended target and all my guns eat it up just fine.
    I often get reccomendations for other brands which is how i ended up with the Power balls , and Golden Sabers. But I got to thinking, hmmmmm how do i know out of the hundreds of defence ammo options which one will do the trick if need be. In reality you don't know what your round will do for you until God for bid you have to use one for its intended purpose.
    How do you guys decide what defence round you want to go with and which one you trust, or is it as simple as " Its a bullet coming out of a gun at a person and it will work" and i'm just over thinking it.
     
  2. docnyt

    docnyt Member

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    You have the basics down - researching, conducting your own tests. All that matters is that the specific ammo you choose feeds reliably in the particular gun you use.
     
  3. MarlinBrando

    MarlinBrando Member

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    I use FMJ, you just never know when the bad guys will come up single file to collectively beat and/or kill you
     
  4. JEB

    JEB Member

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    when i first started carrying for defense i did a bunch of research on ammo. i wanted something that had been around for a while with a well established street record that was accurate and reliable in my guns. this led me to the speer gold dot. after getting them i did some non-scientific testing with milk jugs filled with water. accuracy was good, no reliabilty problems, and weight retention was 98.7% with picture-perfect expansion. search compleate.
     
  5. YammyMonkey

    YammyMonkey Member

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    Find something that's reliable in your gun, shoots to a reasonable accuracy standard and, if you have the ability to night shoot, one that has a low flash.

    In the grand scheme of things, ammo selection is not as critical as the ammo manufacturers would make you believe.

    Google DocGKR ammo test & check his recommendations. The guy has done the research & is very well respected in the community.

    The at-home testing is the least reliable & useful of the methods. Unless you have a background in devising scientifically valid testing protocols & the ability to replicate your tests consistently, they're not much more than fun time at the range.
     
  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Reliability in your firearm is the most important factor, followed by reasonable accuracy.

    After that, "which bullet?" becomes a question of chasing that 1% of the self-defense equation that matters least.

    Pick any of the more common flavors of defensive hollow point -- Speer, Hornady, Remington, ... whatever works in your gun and shoots to your point of aim -- and then put aside that concern as answered. You now have, as I said, that least critical 1% of the self-defense shooting problem solved. (And, truth be told, pretty much all of the "premium" offerings from all of the major manufacturers will be reliable and will be accurate enough for our purposes.)

    With that out of the way, you can concentrate on the other 99% of the problem that really matters:
    1) having the gun with you when you need it,
    2) developing the awareness to recognize when trouble is about to find you and the ability to identify the point at which you must (not "may") shoot,
    3) understanding the law as it relates to use of force in self-defense,
    4) developing, practicing, and maintaining the ability to place shots accurately, and VERY quickly, at whatever range, from whatever position, under various weather and lighting conditions, while fighting to retain the gun, while moving to cover, and so on.

    I know the gun, caliber, and bullet wars are very important to maintaining a thriving firearms industry, but they really do a disservice to defense-minded persons by distracting them with irrelevancies.

    We tend to be like a race driver who watches too many oil company ads and then somehow believes his success or failure hangs on what motor oil and fuel he's putting in his car. Pick one -- 'most any one -- and then go train.
     
  7. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    Sam speaks truth. :)

    As for the exacts, one good technique is to find out what local LE agencies carry.
     
  8. MikeNice

    MikeNice Member

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    I read a ton of tests and did quite a few test. Finally it boiled down to the fact that the 158gr LSWC-HP+p is a proven round in the .38spl. I picked Federal LE white box because it was a great deal then I tested it myself. It has worked in all of my test. It has even taken multiple animals in the 40lbs - 135lbs range. So, I stick with it.

    When I get an auto loader I am going with Federal HST. I read a lot of the tests. Then I asked the cops I work with, "what do you carry and is it effective?" The guys that felt the most confident in their round were guys carrying HST.

    In my personal informal survey it was 100% effective in feeding, firing, and stopping the conflict. Not one person said they wished that they carried another brand, none of them hesitated to say they were confident, and none of them ever remembered having a failure to feed or fire. They also mentioned that they had seen it work in heavy clothing without any issues.

    I guess you could say I chose by asking the people that use them when it counts.
     
  9. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    I also very much agree with Sam.

    First let me say, I think that Hornady Critical Defense is a total marketing gimmick. When I am in a position to do so, I plan to conduct tests against several other premium JHP bullets to put this 'cloth clogging preventing expansion' notion to rest. (For me at least.) I really think that Hornady touts it to sell a new bullet, and there is little, if any difference between it and other premium JHP ammo.

    But it doesn't matter. Like they say, just use what works. I think that the real world difference between brands is negligible at best. I think that the difference between JHP and FMJ is limited. (It's certainly not as critical as people seem to think it is on the internet.) I think you need to go from one extreme end of the scale to the other to see significant difference. (Like, 230 gr .45 HST to 115 gr 9mm fmj.) I think if you give a real shooter a hundred human test subjects to try, and he can get a good controlled pair center of mass, the results would be monotonously similar regardless of the brand of bullets he uses. (And pretty much flush across the board if he uses a failure drill.) The reason we use JHP ammo, is because if we ever have to use a handgun to save our lives, we need every advantage we can get, even if it's not a great advantage.
     
  10. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Sam1911 speaks it just like I do. However he articulates it much better than I would. I would just say "It doesnt matter as long as it feeds" and I would most likely get flamed for it.

    There is not much difference these days becides perception and how a product is marketed. I guess I would stay away from Extreme Shock though.
     
  11. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Nothing more embarassing than having your pants explode during a self-defense encounter! Maybe that just happens to ninjas, though.


    :)
     
  12. JohnBiltz

    JohnBiltz Member

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    I think that the bullet is what does all the work and the gun is merely a platform for delivering the bullets. Yes, you want a reliable platform that is reasonably accurate but a bullet from the finest weapon ever made hits no harder than the same round from any other gun and generally speaking most handguns made today is a great deal more accurate than the person using it. Saying that, I don't think there is much difference among the premium self defense rounds. Some might be better under some circumstances but another would be better under different circumstances. I'll never carry ball if I have something else. Sorry I think that is very foolish, the worst JHP will at worst work like ball. There was a time everyone carried ball and there is a reason people switched from it and embraced JHP, it works better. People who shoot things, law enforcement and hunters know this to be true.
     
  13. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    Sam really nailed it in post 6.
     
  14. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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  15. Cards81fan

    Cards81fan Member

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    Another vote in support of post #6.

    I prefer Speer Gold Dot (.380 and .40), and will also consider Federal HST (.40) if I cannot find Speer (often out of stock around here), though in reality what I favor means little to you. Different rounds need vetted for your particular weapon before you bet your life on them.
     
  16. kingcheese

    kingcheese Member

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    take a lot of milk jugs and fill them with water, test one shot from one type of ammo on each jug, the one that leaves the most fragments, or does the most damage is probably going to be the best choice
     
  17. ChCx2744

    ChCx2744 Member

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    I think the main factors to take into account when choosing a carry load are:

    -Consistent feed reliability (I put this first because this is the most important quality to ME)
    -Little to no jacket and core separation
    -Accuracy (Although this isn't much of an issue due to most modern SD loads being quite accurate)

    I think it is very wise of you to personally test and research what you want. As for carry preference, IMO, I like +P Speer Gold Dot JHPs and +P Winchester Ranger T-Series JHPs. Kinda pricey, but they seem like serious business from what I hear and see.
     
  18. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

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    There is no one perfect round for all occasions for any one cartridge/weapon combination.

    You do research and find a round for your given weapon that meets pretty much most of your needs and just use it (as long is it is reliable and shoots strait.)

    In my Glock 27 I use Winchester T series 155 gr JHPs. Yes I could maybe find another round that is a bit faster, or heavier, or maybe opens better with certain types of cloths but... for me the 155 is good enough. It shoots so well in my 27 that I can do reliable head shots at 25 yards on IPSC targets and it never jams my 27. Thus it's my pick and I have no desire to look for another.

    Same goes for the Winchester +p+ 127 gr. 9mm loads in my 26. And so does the 158gr Corbon LSWHPs I use in my Smith J frames.

    Yes I did research alot and tried other rounds but these do the deed well and they all shoot right on in their respective guns.

    Deaf
     
  19. Diamondback6

    Diamondback6 Member

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    The other angle is if you're using the same round as local LEO and you end up having to defend your choice on the stand, you can say "I only chose the same round that the local police use to protect themselves and the public."

    In the aftermath, while cooperating is prudent the only real friends you'll have are the paras and medical staff treating you for shock and trauma (you ARE going to request treatment, I hope? If nothing else, it buys the lawyer more time) and your attorney.
     
  20. Liberty1776

    Liberty1776 Member

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    It's a good question, and I think SAM1911 hit it best. It's also the reason I decided to carry a .45 ACP - expand or not, it still starts with almost a half-inch hole. I've personally always used SWC in revolvers, and any JHP, JHC etc, in pistols. Currently I've settled on Gold Sabres...just 'cause.
     
  21. bubba in ca

    bubba in ca Member

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    Reliability in your gun is first.
    Fat bullet is better than skinny bullet
    More power is better than less power, as long as you can control it.
    Upgraded personal defense bullets may have an edge, everything from nickel plating to lower flash.
    Cost is not important--you aren't going to shoot many of them. Most of your practice can be dry-firing and with cheaper loads.
    Once you pick a gun, you need to do the research to that specific gun. I was looking into ammo for a 2 inch .38 and a 4 inch .38 and it seems the snub nose needs a faster burning powder to get optimal results.
    Stay away from gimmicks like Glazer safety shells--they don't have the penetration.
     
  22. dirtykid

    dirtykid Member

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    I tested mine with milk-jugs filled with jello,cooled to firmness then wrap each jug in old-denim-pant legs,, I've found that the Hornady 140gr XTP's will shoot clean-thru 2-jugs (4-layers of denim) with massive expansion/destruction,and i can shoot them out of my SP101 .357 comfortably during range-practice,, Remington Golden Sabre's got hung-up in 1st layer of 2nd milk-jug's denim layer,, Easy decision for me
     
  23. Beaux Nehr

    Beaux Nehr Member

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    It's pretty simple to me:

    1.) No round is always going to expand correctly, no matter how fancy, or awesome it is.

    2.) Therefore, I choose the load that fires most accurately from my specific gun.
     
  24. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    To rephrase an old saying a bit - accuracy is fine, but reliability is final. :D

    lpl
     
  25. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Everyone asks this time and again.

    What is reliable and accurate is what you should put in your weapon. If that means FMJ only it's better than harsh language or a sharp stick.

    There are numerous threads, research and anecdotal stories about one bullet's performance over another. No bullet is magic.

    Load your firearm with something you can afford to practice with and you'll shoot it more.
     
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