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How important is developing your own load for a self defence pistol?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Bravo Foxtrot, Nov 4, 2020.

  1. Bravo Foxtrot

    Bravo Foxtrot Member

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    I'm new to reloading but have been shooting pistols for years. When most self defense encounters take place within 21 feet cleaning and uniforming primer pockets, chronographing every shot with different bullet weights and different powders seems like a lot of needless work. Thanks
     
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  2. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    How important is developing your own load for a self defense pistol?

    For me, not terribly. Because I almost always carry factory ammo. However, were I to carry my own handloads, I would (and have) perform careful accuracy and chronograph testing, be meticulous about measurements and consistency, and document all of it. Why? Because if I ever needed to use that ammo to defend my life, I would like some counter argument to a prosecutor's position that I didn't have any idea what I was doing loading my own ammunition, and was a danger because of it. Or some other such narrative.
     
  3. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Important enough to just buy a few boxes of factory...

    That said, I encourage people who want to load their own ammo to copy a tried/true factory load as close as they can.
     
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  4. hardheart

    hardheart Member

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    If it's a good shoot, the ammo shouldn't be a factor in calling it. Shouldn't, but who knows. Whatever you do, it could be turned against you. Not very precise, then you demonstrated a lack of care and critical thinking that probably could have also avoided the shoot. Too precise, and you built the deadliest ammo you could think of, clearly demonstrating premeditation.

    As far as practical accuracy, pie plate at 7 yards is pretty easy so you wouldn't need match ammo.
     
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  5. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    "Aim small, Miss small." What does it take to accomplish that. Remember, when your time comes, don't you want to be dead on? A buddy just bought a M&P Shield. Guess what, no store ammo. Now what?, .....reload. What can you put together? What can you find in bullets, primers and powder? And do you want to bet your life on what you will reload? These are real questions that need to be answered. I just got some PB, small match primers and some MBC bullets. Now I want see my groups and chronie a few loads.
     
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  6. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I agree. Carry factory ammo of the type your local LEO's use for duty and you will have all bases covered.
     
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  7. Bravo Foxtrot

    Bravo Foxtrot Member

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    Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts. I think I'll find factory ammo that I get good results with and copy the recipe for my practice ammo.
     
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  8. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    That's what I try to do - build practice ammo that shoots like the factory ammo I carry for self-defense. However, (don't take this the wrong way - I know what you meant) you're going to have a hard time "copying" factory ammo "recipes." About the closest you can come to "copying" factory ammo is using the same bullet weight and type, and possibly brand, and kick it out at approximately the same speed. You're probably never going to find out what kind of powder the "factory" used, much less buy any of it for yourself.
    But like I said - I know what you meant. I do the same thing.;)
    BTW, my wife and I completed the Idaho Enhanced Concealed Carry Course last summer, and the Instructor, a County Sheriff's Deputy told us that it "wasn't a good idea" to carry handloads in our carry guns. Now I don't know if he was right or not, and I will not argue about it (everyone can do what they want - it's no skin off my nose) but neither my wife nor I have ever carried anything other than factory ammo in our carry guns - not even before we took the class.
     
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  9. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Important, if you might ever carry your reloads.

    It is needless work. . . and there's no reason to.

    Focus on reliability, skip the pocket uniformer, and leave the chrony at home. Those tools have some small applicability in precision rifle reloading, but nearly none in defensive pistol loading.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020
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  10. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    I buy factory loads because what’s available on the market meets my needs for accuracy and reliable function in my CCW. Secondary to that, it negates any potential follow on legal issues which may develop in court from using my own reloads.
     
  11. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    1. Buy and carry factory if you can.
    2. If you cant get factory refign your load for accuracy and reliability until you are willing to bet your life on it.
     
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  12. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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  13. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I would say it’s very low on the list. Eating well, keeping your blood pressure in check, don’t take unnecessary risks, driving, horse back riding, swimming, boating, smoking , drinking, riding a bicycle, jogging on roadways, farming, eating red meat, anything fried or anything else that kills more people every year than what ammunition they happened to have while involved in a gun fight, would be higher priorities. Not to mention avoiding said gun fight.

    If the goal is to live longer.
     
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  14. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Seriously... I wouldn't give it much thought. You are correct, however...

    1) Definitely find a factory ammo that gives you good results, but primarily feeds and functions 100% Your SD ammos aren't going to be used on a target range, MOBC (Minute of Body Cavity) at SD ranges will be adequate. Feed and function is paramount.

    2) Work up a load that simulates... not necessarily duplicates... your factory SD load. For that matter, most factory FMJ ammo will duplicate SD ammos within the same bullet weight range, let alone handloads. Buying and loading expensive JHP component bullets is unnecessary, IMHO.

    At the Moment of Truth, it's not going to matter that one SD load prints 1" groups vs 4" groups over another cartridge... there are so many other factors at work at that point you will be fortunate to hit your target regardless, but it WILL matter if your pistol jams.
     
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  15. Archie

    Archie Member

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    I carry factory ammunition only as I scrounged a small stockpile of what I feel to be an adequate defensive round several years ago. No point in reinventing the wheel, so to speak. As it happens, it shoots a bullet of the same weight and velocity as 'standard' loadings of that sort of cartridge (except for a non-expanding bullet). I did some research and found the defense ammo and the 'standard' ammunition shoot to the same place out to 50 yards. This is for my primary defense gun.
    I have two sorts of handguns that are 'secondary' defense arms (I like options). I do reload the rounds for that purpose as no commercial ammunition (of which I approve) is offered.

    Being prosecuted or sued. Laws throughout the nation have slightly varying standards for self defense use of lethal force. (Up to you to find out.) IF one can explain the circumstances qualifying one for 'self-defense', then one will be found 'not guilty'. Type of ammunition used simply doesn't matter. This does not protect one from arrest (which is detention pending the investigation), the investigation (which may or may not be embarrassing independent of the charges) potential trial or the ATTORNEY'S FEES for handing the matter.

    The greater threat regarding reloads will come in the 'wrongful death' suit filed by the survivors. That is a civil matter, requires only a simple majority of the jury to rule and is much less stringent about what is germane to the proceedings.

    I would suggest preparing defensive reloads to the highest level of quality. Cases should be clean, new or relatively new, primer pockets cleaned of debris to insure proper ignition and charges selected to operate the arm (if semi-automatic) or not stick in the barrel in any event and at the same time not be abusive to the arm (or you).

    Any practice for defense should employ the actual arm intended and either the ammunition intended or a suitable substitute.
     
  16. tomrkba

    tomrkba Member

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    Not at all. You can train and practice with FMJ ammo. You should also train and practice with all action types. Focusing upon one handgun action type means you may have difficulty if you have to pick one up. You should not be learning in the middle of a fight (paraphrasing Clint Smith). At the very least, find out what your local police department uses and practice with that. However, I recommend getting a SIG, CZ or Beretta in DA/SA, something Glock-like that is striker fired, a double action revolver and a 1911 or SIG P210 (single action with manual safety). Practice with each regularly and dry fire daily. Dry fire should have a routine thst includes drawing from concealment. Mantis X10 is helpful (I am a customer with no affiliation).

    It is more important to attend two to five day defensive courses. You should be training out to 25 yards routinely and be confident at 50 yards. It is not likely you will take such a shot; it is more for proficiency and confidence. Then again, Vic Stacey shot a criminal at approximately 65 yards with a revolver. But, that was a rare event.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
  17. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    You are correct.
    • This is why you want to BUY your defensive loads. So much testing goes into factory loads that the handloader cannot even begin to duplicate.
    • What you want to do as a handloader is to load practice ammo that effectively mimics your self defense loads. In this way you can practice cheaply and save your expensive factory SD ammo for carry.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  18. dh1633pm
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    dh1633pm Contributing Member

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    If you can't trust what you make yourself, then what type of reloader are you? I understand the other argument of "if I have to use it, will they hold reloads against me". I was speaking in the absence of that fear. I don't own any pistols. Nada, none. I reload for firearms that might be used for whatever reason and that includes reloading for those. I mostly reload so that I have what I need and can make more as needed. For firearms that are not used for target, sometimes close enough is close enough. Example for the Mini 14. With my plinking reloads I can hit the six inch target at 100 yards about everytime. Close enough. Same for my 45 Colt Rifles. For my RRA's bull barrel upper with single shot lower, six inches at 100 yards is not good enough. I have a special load for it that was worked up with plenty of trial and error. Practice with what you use.

    Excellent advice has been posted by a lot of people. Good reading.
     
  19. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I use factory ammunition for 99.9% of defensive carry purposes.

    However, I could see a viable scenario where somebody was out hunting with a rifle or handgun using hand loads- very legitimate, and then was thrust into a defensive encounter (meth lab, drug farm, etc.) and forced to use said hand loads for two-legged purposes.
     
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  20. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    I fully agree with the quality arguments and the fake rumors about the legal aspects. That is not what I'm saying.

    My point is that SD ammo sales to all the various LEO purchasing departments (when you add up all the city, county, state and federal agencies) must be a billion dollar market in the US alone. With so much money at stake, the R&D competition must be intense. The major players are probably spending millions on research to develop the "best" ammo possible. And as such, there must be hundreds of secrets... such as proprietary bullets, blended powders, maybe even special primers, none of which can be purchased or duplicated by the hand loader.

    Do I develop my own SD loads ? Yes, of course. But these are intended to stop poisonous snakes and rabid fox... my 2 biggest daily threats. But when I do venture into "civilization", I carry only factory loads.
     
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  21. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

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    I use factory ammo. Easy-peasy, and helps w/ possible later liability issues.
     
  22. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    I think the real advantage to developing your own SD load is to have it in place when factory ammo is no longer available!
    Jmtcw
     
  23. JJFitch

    JJFitch Member

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    Although a good shoot is a good shoot in criminal court there is probability of civil court despite the criminal court outcome. When hiring an attorney you want the best you can afford, like the $800 an hour team!

    The less distraction the better. Like spending 8 hours arguing that there is absolutely not difference in factory and reloads.

    It's your money! :)
     
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  24. nofendertom

    nofendertom Member

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    If you only carry factory ammo for SD it might be a good idea if your reloads hit to the same POA.
     
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  25. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Plenty of people convicted in "good shoot" self defense shootings. Plenty of others raked over the coals after "good shoot" self defense shootings. "Good shoot" does not mean you are coming out unscathed.

    The only reasons I can see for using hand/reloads for self defense is because 1) you truly think you can do a better, more consistent, more reliable job of manufacturing ammo than what the factory can do (subtle hint...lots of reloaders truly believe this, but it isn't true for the vast majority of them), or 2) for some reason, you don't have access to factory ammo.
     
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