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Practice what you carry...so why not carry FMJ?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by WoodchuckAssassin, Oct 29, 2018.

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  1. WoodchuckAssassin

    WoodchuckAssassin Member

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    Many short barreled (<3 inches) auto loaders are picky eaters, so is there any great sin in carrying FMJ for personal protection?

    I realize the Pandora's box of opinions this may open, and if you have another thread that already explores this thoroughly (I'm sure they're out there), I'd be happy to read it.

    It just seems like someone can shoot a lot more ammo at .18 cents a round vs the .50+ cents for a quality hollow point, so where is the line between expansion performance and ammo reliability? My own feeling is that I'd rather run a couple rounds of fmj and KNOW that they will cycle reliable, vs a percent of that number of rounds in expensive hollow points. Crazy? Maybe, but I'm curious what you all think. As always, thank you for your thoughts.
     
  2. R_P_K

    R_P_K Member

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    I shoot 9mm, over penetration is a big concern. I shoot enough of a good hollow point ammo to find my carry load. I then shoot with cheaper fmj at the range. I always fire the loaded mag in my carry gun, Walther PPS M1, first thing at the range. The last mag I shoot at the range is my spare carry mag. First mag clean gun, last mag dirty gun. There no reason to waste hundreds of good carry rounds. If you carry a hot load, shoot a hot fmj load at the range, find something close enough.
     
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  3. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    My defensive handguns consist of several Glocks and a S&W M&P shield 9. I have faith in them to digest any quality American made hollow point factory ammo. I simply fire some cheap steel case FMJ junk through the gun when I get it to get the "feel" of the gun, and more importantly, to get it nice and dirty, then fire a few rounds of "the good stuff" to give it a clean bill of health. Then I clean it, reload it, and stop worrying about it.
     
  4. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    9mm FMJ was where the 9mm got it's reputation as poor for defensive (non-military) use. Smaller pointy-ish bullet whisking its way into a bad guy and out the back without doing a whole lot of damage to the internals other than a pencil-sized hole along the way. The .45's big, slow slug was much more effective on the enemy in FMJ style ammo than the 9mm.

    The last 20 years of computer modeling and gelatin-block R&D has brought the 9mm from the "merely acceptable" arena to the "effective" realm through reliable, expanding bullet designs. This R&D has also improved .45, .40, 10mm, .380, .38 Spl, etc. bullet performance as well.

    Federal HST, Winchester SXT, Hornady Critical Duty or Critical Defense...these (and many other) 9mm bullets in standard or +P loads will function in most, if not all, 9mm handguns extremely reliably, and perform on the aggressor much, much better than the FMJ could ever do. Many people use the 147 gr JHP designs with their smaller guns, I personally use a 124 gr +P in mine.

    You can carry what you want to, and I'll never fault anyone who does carry a firearm loaded with FMJ to protect themselves or others because carrying the firearm is the main point; but personally, I'll trust the defense of myself and my family to one of the modern JHP designs no matter what caliber handgun I'm carrying. :)

    Stay safe!
     
  5. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    Yes, it's not as effective and it tends to shoot through too much.

    If you get a good quality, modern pistol from a reputable manufacturer, it should have no problem whatsoever running good quality hollow point ammunition. If it has problems, the gun shouldn't be carried.
     
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  6. Monac

    Monac Member

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    I agree with bearcreek. Bullets that expand on impact are simply more effective than bullets which do not. Policemen wanted pistol bullets that were actually effective for many years. Some of them used to call the 38 Special 158 grain round nosed lead load "the widowmaker" - not because it left the bad guys wives widows, but because its lack of effectiveness made cop's wives widows. It seems silly to throw that away for a little bit of money. And if you're worried about feeding, get a better gun or a revolver.
     
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  7. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    It seems to me that other factors (some possibly related to barrel length) not the length of the barrel on it's own would determine the feed issues in any in any particular firearm. For example feed ramp geometry, slide mass, spring tension, cartridge design, user maintenance, operator form.

    But to the main point of the OP if you want to use fmj and understand the ballistics involved then use fmj. OTOH, if you determine that jhp is the way to go either select a firearm that functions with it or find some other way to get it to function properly.
    .
    My view is if you are carrying a firearm for personal protection then you should commit to regular and purposeful training and that cost of ammo should not really be the deciding factor in how much ammo you send down range for practice purposes. Practice until you have the necessary skills then practice to maintain those skills.

    Not everyone that desires to carry for self protection should carry for self protection. I use myself as an example, I live in a state that is gun friendly and have a CCW, own all kinds of highly functional carry tackle and spend ample amounts of time at my range. However, I work in a gun unfriendly state that doesn't issue carry permits so not wanting to lose my job and spend decades in jail, I opt for being unarmed most of the time. That's my decision of course, but the cost of ammo is not in any way a factor in that decision.

    My view is if you lack the financial means then don't force the issue over 10 cents per round...just because. That 10 cents you save will become hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses if a projectile leaves your firearm, passes thru a bad guy and finds it's way into a good guy.
     
  8. George P

    George P Member

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    I don't have a problem carrying FMJ ammo; if you hit where you are supposed to, the incident should end quickly enough (and if it doesn't, shoot some more)
     
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  9. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    That's exactly what I do when I carry one of my .32 ACP or .380 ACP pocket guns. Anything with more punch and/or a longer barrel gets JHP.
     
  10. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    You should shoot enough, and often enough, with your defensive load to know it works. I don't see any reason not to switch to a less expensive bullet for most of your practice.

    Practice is never exactly like reality. How often have you practiced running your pistol without hearing protection. . . on a Main St. sidewalk? Close enough really is close enough.

    Regarding bullet performance, I still suggest hot FMJ for .380, but anything larger benefits from JHP (or wadcutters in .38).
     
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  11. fordtrucks

    fordtrucks Member

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    Read massad ayoob on this and court cases he presents.

    Always carry hollow points for defense (or a similar cartridge designed for 12-18” penetration).

    Never carry hand loads. Extraordinarily bad idea if it comes to court.

    No fmj in .380 as far as I’m concerned too. Fmj in .380 will pass through as well.

    You want to be able to show in court (if it comes to that) you did as much as possible to minimize collateral damage and pass throughs.
     
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  12. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    I would not carry a gun that was a "picky eater" but pack whatever gun and ammo you are comfortable with.
    When I practice with my carry guns I am primarily working on my technique, speed and accuracy. I already know the gun is reliable or it would not be a carry gun. Occasionally I do practice with carry ammo Again it is more for shooting technique with full power loads than a reliability test.
    I also reload everything and have thousands of pulled Gold Dot HP's and other JHP's purchased at coated/plated bullet prices.
     
  13. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    We haven't had this debate in a few days. Awesome.

    FMJs tend to pass through due to a lack of expansion.
    If over penetration is a concern involving potential collateral damage, they could be a bad idea.
    A wider crush cavity is better than a narrower one.
    The bullet nose profile of a FMJ can add to deflection and a wound channel that doesn't hit where you want.
    If you have nothing else, then FMJ are your best bet, cuz that's what you have.

    The correct answer regarding practice consistency is to either practice some with the ammo you intend to carry, or learn to load your own and develop loads that shoot and recoil the same as your carry load.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
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  14. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Back when FMJ was all that was available for autoloaders, some carried with FMJ, some carried revolvers. As bullet technology advanced, and gun manufacturing/gunsmithing techniques advanced with it, (Polishing feed ramps for flying ashtrays sound familiar to some of you?) JHP became a viable option. For a while, anti's tried (they still try, but too much evidence has been complied to the contrary) to convince everyone, and particularly juries, that JHP's were excessively cruel, etc. As PD's started carrying autos, and in them JHP's, based on the FBI's tests, enough evidence that JHP's both were more effective , and safer for bystanders , virtually eliminating pass-through secondary hits. With today's reliable guns (in general) that run JHP's, there is no reason to hamstring yourself while also increasing danger to bystanders were you to use your FMJ ammo in an SD situation.

    Mas is right, and has the street and courtroom experience to back it up.
     
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  15. BSA1

    BSA1 member

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    Well I can cheap, er frugal but my life and the lives of my loved ones are worth more than.18 cents.

    I agree with the comment that .380 and smaller get FMJ to ensure enough penetration to reach the vitals. Also I confess to liking 230 gr. FMJ in my 45 Autos. There is something fun about shooting those big pumpkin balls downrange.

    However my personal minimum edc cartridge is the 9mm. Since I reload it is not difficult to load range ammo hot enough to match my self-defense stuff. My current 9mm carry ammo costs .70 cents a round.

    In the end what it comes down to is having your wife and loved ones standing over your grave saying "The .52 cents he saved by using cheap ammo sure helped with the funeral expenses."
     
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  16. JohnBiltz

    JohnBiltz Member

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    If that is your big concern then shoot and carry Winchester White Box JHP. Its not the best JHP out there but its not the worst either. In fact everyone is always surprised at how well it tests. Don't get me wrong, its not Gold Dot but it is not that bad and certainly better than ball and its cheap. I think its the same cost as WWB ball.
     
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  17. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I can't tell whether the OP's point/theory is: 1) you need to carry the same ammunition that you practice with, and since high-end JHP are prohibitively expensive for high-volume practice, you shouldn't carry them; or 2) high-end JHP's are so expensive that one cannot test enough of them to have confidence that they will be reliable; or 3) FMJ's are inherently more reliable than JHP's, and therefore are better for carry, regardless of price.

    I disagree with all of these, but I can't even tell which one to rebut.
     
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  18. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    Even with .44 and .45 calibres, look at gel tests. the JHP will outperform ball every time.

    And street cred should also be examined. you won't see very many LEOs carrying ball, even in .45 ACP. It just isn't effective.
     
  19. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    I didn't read 'em all. I've done it for brief periods when carrying a newly-acquired gun for which I didn't have a tested HP round.

    For 9mm Luger, I've tested, and am satisfied with, plain old Remington-UMC and Winchester's "Defend" JHP rounds, which are both in 115-grain loads, and run about the same prices as those companies' FMJ loads. So, those are what I carry in my two defense-ready 9mm pistols (Kel-Tec PF9 and Ruger P95.)
     
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  20. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    The difference in recoil impulse of, say, 9mm FMJ and JHP is almost nil, so it makes sense to practice with the cheaper ammo. As far as cost of defensive ammo, it's just the cost of admission. I regularly cycle my carry ammo out... I have 50 rounds of it loaded in mags at any one time and typically cycle it out every 6 months, this not only proves the reliability of that particular ammo in my pistols, but fresh ammo is good ammo. If the cost of 2 or 4 boxes of defensive ammo is a concern... well, I got nothing for you.

    As an aside, my additional mags all have a round of FMJ on top... that insures good feeding after a mag change. It is also an indicator that I have a full magazine... sometimes a round will pop out after bouncing around in the console or pocket. Having said that, I'm not a big fan of FMJ as defensive ammo.
     
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  21. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    I came to my conclusion about FMJ in .380 after looking at Lucky Gunner Labs data. It seems that the only 380 JHP ammo that consistently showed satisfactory penetration did so because it acted about like FMJ. . . minimal or no expansion.

    Pass through doesn't worry me nearly as much as inadequate penetration.
     
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  22. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    https://www.glocktalk.com/a/the-peculiar-problem-of-handloads-in-self-defense-shootings.18/

    Why is it a bad idea?
     
  23. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Agree with many above: we practice to get close, not to exactly duplicate. Wear eyes and ears. Shoot on a range, not in your house or city streets. Point downrange, not up. Shoot paper or cardboard, not people. Shoot cheaper ammo so you shoot more.

    I pull the trigger on airsoft or SIRT more than my real gun. Not the same, but close enough for the tradeoff, that I get to shoot more, in more real environments, or even against people sometimes. Training is a tradeoff.

    Shoot enough defensive ammo to be sure the carry gun works. I mark all my rounds before loading. Swipe across the head with a sharpie. When an X (two marks) it goes to the bottom of the mag. When too many of those in my box of defensive loads (I shoot my carry piece at IDPA, practice, etc so see them all regularly) then I call that practice ammo. Twice a year I shoot 50-100 rounds of expensive carry ammo through the gun.

    The other year I accidentally bought 147 carry ammo. Normally do 124 gold dots. Noticed only when I shot a mag of carry ammo by accident (it happens also). Noticed because of the change in recoil. So then I direct compared my 124 carry to my 115 cheapest practice and: noticable different. So now I have switched to cheap 124 practice ammo. Not +P, but close enough I cannot tell the difference between shooting my carry ammo, and almost exactly the same POI when I do 50 yard drills; less difference than I can tell with my skill.
     
  24. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    Penetration is an interesting subject. Most people like to quote the FBI tests. But remember, the FBI was interested in law enforcement ammo.

    An LEO may need to engage through a barrier. A non- LEO, not so much. If you feel the need to engage through car doors or barriers, your choice of lawyers may be more important than your choice of ammunition.

    The human body is normally less than 10 inches thick. A bullet that penetrates 12 inches will go completely through. If shooting from the side, you may encounter a body that is 14-15 inches through. But the vital organs are less than 10 inches from any angle.

    The needs of an LEO, and the needs of a non-LEO are different. Factor that in when choosing defensive ammo.
     
  25. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I always say this... at The Moment of Truth your choice of ammo type makes no matter (unless it's something silly like handgun shotshells, etc.) Type of clothing, armor, barriers, full on or side, fat guy, thin guy... everything will be a complete crapshoot and no amount of analysis will prepare you for the perfect anything. A reasonable firearm loaded with reasonable ammunition that can be drawn and presented effectively will trump gel blocks and internet pontification every time.

    That isn't to say it doesn't make for good conversation...
     
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