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Discussion Starter #1
I've been searching the web for info on self defense ammo. I reload, but only use factory ammo for intended self defense. My search is not entirely from the manufacturers, because they all say their ammo is great. Here's the recommendations from some experts:

Calibers recommendations.
This site gives excellent info on ammo for each major caliber at the end. Click on a specific caliber to go to an advocacy page for each caliber. All 9MM users! Click on the 9x19mm and read the info on the 9. There are some 9MM rounds that perform as good as the 40 S&W, and the 45 ACP.

Note the 9MM Proload Gold Dot ammo is 1200 fps. Speer Gold Dot ammo is 1260 fps. It's the same bullet at the same speed. No need to look for Proload when Speer is basically the same.

Tactical.com
Go to the terminal effects forum. Do a search on your caliber to narrow it down. I think just about everything has been covered. The forum owner is a ballistics expert.

AmmoLab.com
These guys, also ballistic experts, shoot bullets into gelatin for a living. Click on the handgun test results on the left. It's an eye opener.
 

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I too use factory ammo for self defense ammo. I prefer Gold Dots, Golden Sabers, Triton, and Corbon. After reading the article on the MagTech self defense ammo, I would like to try them out too. (Cabelas has them for $11/box).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Better to read up first. The experts aren't even too hip on Corbon (not enough penetration). It seems everyone liked Gold Dot 124gr +p and Golden Saber 147gr for performance. They all suggest putting 100 rounds through an auto pistol to verify no failures. If you have one, try different ammo. I personally learned a lot, and found how little I knew about handgun ammo performance.
 

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Not that fond of 9mm, but in regards to .45acp, I always use a heavy bullet....either 200gr or 230gr. Far as Corbon, I've found its the most accurate load I've shot.
Plus, all those sites about bullet penetration, performance, and expansion....blah, blah blah.......I've heard and read them before. And we've talked about this subject on a different board.......so I'm familiar about the subject. One thing to keep in mind about ammo, regardless of caliber........the heavier the bullet, the more you get penetration.
 

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Plenty of good ammo out there to choise from but one thing you can do is find out what your local police use. Often it is something that we can pick up over the counter and if for some reason you have to go to court for using your gun it helps lower the procecuters argument that you are using killer ammo...after all will the procecuter imply or accuse his police force of using Killer ammo?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This is copied from the CALIBERS link. You can get bullets all day long that penetrate. The problem is proper expansion / performance. Ammo Lab has quite a few fancy rounds that totally failed to do their job in 4 layers of denim and gelatin. As far as accuracy, I'll take a 3" group at 25 yards with a superior bullet than a 2" group with a bullet that's not going to do the job when it gets there. I for one will take advice from the ballistics experts over another "board" (no offense). The information is out there. You can lead a horse to water..............

This is the big one, of course. Many of the "big names" in the gunzine world disparage the 9mm right and left because, they claim, it lacks "knockdown power" or "stopping power" or whatever they're calling it this month.
I won't lie to you. They're right. The average 9mm load probably isn't as effective as a defensive round as the average .40S&W, .45ACP, 357SIG, or 10mm round.

Whoa, hold on a minute! Did he just say the 9mm isn't as good as those others?

No. I said that the average load wasn't as good. When you start to look at the best loads in each caliber, you begin to see that they're almost identical in terminal performance (ability to penetrate, expand, and otherwise wound a violent threat).

Here are some samples of performance in bare gelatin:

Round / Penetration / Expansion / Wound Area
Federal HydraShok

9mm 124gr +P+ 13.3" 0.67" 44.8 sq. in.
.40S&W 155gr 13.3" 0.68" 47.9 sq. in.
.45ACP 185gr +p 12.9" 0.69" 31.5 sq. in.
.45ACP 230gr 13.7" 0.71" 28.4 sq. in.
Federal PDA

9mm 135gr 11.5" 0.72"
.40S&W 135gr 9.6" 0.68"
.45ACP 165gr 11.3" 0.78"
Remington Golden Saber

9mm 147gr 12.8" 0.68"
.40S&W 165gr 12.5" 0.67"
.45ACP 230gr 14.1" 0.76"

As you can see, the 9mm versions of most "premium" loads are very close and sometimes superior to the .40S&W and .45ACP versions. It's all about bullet design, not bullet weight or velocity.

The problem is that while there are few "bad" loads in the other calibers, there are tons of "bad" 9mm defensive choices out there. Many rounds either fail to expand or fail to penetrate, or both. It is important that you, as a shooter, do a little research and choose 9x19mm ammunition which is tailored to your particular needs.

So for 9mm, load selection becomes paramount. (Click here to see CALIBERS recommendations in 9x19mm) But once you choose a good load, it works just like a good load in .40S&W, .45ACP, or any of those other calibers. Sure, it's not as heavy as the heavy bullets, and it's not as fast as the fastest bullets. But if it penetrates the same, expands the same, and disrupts tissue the same, who cares? All else being equal, I'd prefer a cheap, easy to control gun rather than one that makes me work harder and spend more money to get the same results.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conclusion. The 9x19 certainly isn't the choice for everyone. Plenty of people are very hardware dependent or simply lack confidence in the 9mm because of anecdotes and the performance of some of the "bad" ammo discussed above. That's fine. Those people are certainly free to use bigger guns which generate more recoil, which they cannot afford to practice with as often, just to have the same terminal performance ("stopping power") as my wimpy little 9mm.
Oddly enough, I haven't found a single person so far who is so unimpressed with the stopping power of a 9mm that he is willing to stand downrange and catch one fired out of my Beretta. :cool:
 

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One thing to remember when choosing self defense rounds: If you use reloads or 'other' tactical ammo, you may help the prosecutor convict you on minimally man slaughter and in the worst case, murder. BE VERY CAREFUL. I have received this information, not only in the CCW class I took, but from friends who are lawyers. This can be construed to make you look like a fanatic who was looking for a chance to shoot someone. It has happened in the past and will continue in this gun hating atmosphere we are in. I was told to purchase a box of factory ammo from a licensed dealer (of course), keep the sales receipt in the box, and label on the inside flap with the date of purchase. I know it sounds extreme, but it could be the difference in a clean shooting judgment or a conviction. In terms of good brand loads, many have been discussed in the above posts.
 

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I have long heard about the 'legal jeopardy' of using handloads for self defense, but I have NEVER heard or seen an ACTUAL case cited where the prosecution used this fact against a shooter.

I am not saying it has never happened, but criminal trials are public record so it should be very easy to find an actual citation of this in an actual trial resulting from a self defense shooting. If it really happened I am sure it would be all over the web / gun mags / NRA, etc. with all the pertinent ballistics, load data, etc etc etc etc. Conspicuous lack of these type of details is often a good sign of 'Urban Legend' syndrome.

If anyone can provide an ACTUAL citation including 'state vs Smith' and/or docket number, year, state/city, etc etc info I would start to give this issue more credilbility.

(P.S. no offense but saying 'my CCW instructer said so' or 'my lawyer friends said so' is not the same as an actual bona fide case law citation.)

I think for the prosecution to use this effectively they would have to prove your intent was to kill/maim and/or show that your handloads were in fact more powerful than any commercially available factory ammo. Otherwise all they can accuse you of is trying to save money. So what if you load your own to same/similar specs as a +P+ factory load? Maybe your local shop did not stock the factory load you wanted, or maybe you had to order a whole case, etc etc. Now if you loaded your 12 gauge with roofing nails or something crazy like that they may have a point. But commercially available bullets, powder, primers, and brass that you can buy at any shop and that shoot about the same as factory loads? Tenuous argument there.

Also I think your reloading habits may be a factor. If all you do is reload for your carry/defense ammo then that may count aginst you. But if you load 1000s of rounds in many calibers (as I do for competition and target) then it is real easy to see why you would just load your own for carry also. After all, does a corn farmer buy Green Giant brand at the grocery store?
 

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At this point in my life, I don't have the time or inclination to search all the Case laws for this. It sounds logical and makes sense to me and I'll take it for what it was... advice. As a side note, the instructor is ATF.
 

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If it was a clear self defense shooting your choice of ammo won't really be a factor with the prosecutor as you won't be going to criminal court over it. A civil case anything could happen.
 

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.45
 

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GLASER IS JUNK SORRY FIJI BUT IT LACKS AS A DEFENSIVE ROUND! if you need to penetrate heavy layers of clothing glass or barriers your sol! current top loads as presented by DR. roberts are in 9mm
win ranger sxt 9mm 127+p+
it has about a 95% percent in actual shootings actual shootings is what counts i know dave at ammo lab he is a great guy and a top notch ammo guy , but remember they are only going on lab test and different things happen in the real world vs jello! but it is a good guide to start with! as for case laws etc.. you can beat this one to death all day long it has never happened in michigan! i belive mas ayoob had one case which involved handloads, the best all around is to find a good factory load that gives you good accuracy and reliablity in your carry guns, they all wil work with shot placment thats what counts not the type of wonder load! 2 rounds of any good design between the shirt pockets and dead is dead!
 

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.243 win 100 grain sp.
It makes a big hole:cool:
 

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mine is loaded strictly for in-home self defense of my family, not as my carry gun.
My "purpose" as it were, is to protect my family WITHOUT endangering them at the same time via a through round penetrating walls/doors.

I've personally seen the results (in the ER) of someone who has taken such a round. They are devastating to the recipient. When that Xray comes back with all those pellets the docs start the "stick a fork in him cause he's done" talk.

Take one out and see what it does to a 2x4 and then you'll see what I mean.

Close range, lethal power without endangering bystanders.
It may not shoot through barriers but thats what the second clip is for ! LOL
 

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Funny you should mention proper expansion, DogJaw. Ya can take a 9mm and have it expand and it almost is the same diameter as a .45acp.
Just ask all those soldiers who fell to the .45acp during military conflicts about "proper expansion".......they wouldn't know because all .45acp ammo was FMJ. Conclusion: a .45acp bullet makes a BIG hole.....
You can shoot geletin and wet paper all day......those do not equal flesh. A friend of mine on another board did his own experiment w/wet paper and bullets. THe worst of all his tests were the Black Talons and the new Winchester SXT's.......hardly any penetration and the bullet just broke apart. He posted the results and pics on the board so we all could see.

To sum it all up, the bigger the bullet, the bigger the hole....the heavier the bullet, the more penetration.........sounds like a .45acp to me!!!
 

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I used to use 125 grain JHP's in my 357 until I went shooting once at night. My GAWD, talk about blinding! :eek: I settled on some 125 grain 38+P's for the revolver.

For my 9mm, I've tried MagTech and Golden Sabres. They both shoot about as well out of my gun. A slight difference wouldn't matter anyway, I'm not looking for pinpoint accuracy out of a house load, it just has to hit minute-of-badguy.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Originally posted by CMR
Funny you should mention proper expansion, DogJaw. Ya can take a 9mm and have it expand and it almost is the same diameter as a .45acp.
Just ask all those soldiers who fell to the .45acp during military conflicts about "proper expansion".......they wouldn't know because all .45acp ammo was FMJ. Conclusion: a .45acp bullet makes a BIG hole.....
You can shoot geletin and wet paper all day......those do not equal flesh. A friend of mine on another board did his own experiment w/wet paper and bullets. THe worst of all his tests were the Black Talons and the new Winchester SXT's.......hardly any penetration and the bullet just broke apart. He posted the results and pics on the board so we all could see.

To sum it all up, the bigger the bullet, the bigger the hole....the heavier the bullet, the more penetration.........sounds like a .45acp to me!!!
Where do I start,
A 9mm is deemed acceptable for self defense if it expands to at least .53, which is larger than .45, not almost as big. Some 9mm loads will expand larger than 40 and 45 loads with the same penetration. Bigger coming out the barrel doesn't mean better, better means a good bullet design when it gets there.
The military used to carry 45 ACP with ball ammo. They use ball ammo because of several treaties banning expanding ammo in combat. You said it yourself, it put a big hole in a person, exactly .45 in size actually. Any number of acceptable 9mm loads, will make a much bigger hole than using a 45 with fmj ammo. That's why (if you look at the label on the box of ammo) the reputable ammo manufacturers label fmj for plinking and target. Their self defense rounds are hollow points, with the exception of Federal's new expanding full metal jacket, which is a hollow point with silicon on top and a metal skin to look and feed like a fmj round, but expand like a hollow point. The military doesn't care if the bullet goes through and hits someone else, because everyone behind the guy shot is also a bad guy. Also if a bullet goes through and does not expand, it's energy is not used up in the intended target. So take that 380 - 400 ft lbs of rated muzzle energy and toss it out the window. You can get a .38 special +p with a good hollow point to have more stopping power. Your not using the energy on the target with ball ammo.
I sure as heck hope your not carrying around fmj ammo for self defense. It'll zip right on thru and into what or who ever is behind. New York City used 147 gr fmj ammo when it first got auto pistols. An officer shot a bad guy, killing him with a single shot, but the bullet went through the bad guy and a plate glass shop window, and killed a women inside. Using fmj ammo puts innocent people at risk from ill informed individuals. Ask the police what they use. Read deputy's post. It's not full metal jacket ammo. It's high performance hollow points.

By the way, the gelatin does equal flesh. That's what it was invented for, and is calibrated..... I'll remember the wet paper test when a crazed news boy, with an arm load of papers, is charging me in a rain storm.

Your missing the point. For everyone's sake on the street, get some proper ammo to put in that 45.
 

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DogJaw,
First of all, do you really think I am that stupid of using FMJ for self defense ammo???? No, I use Golden Sabers and Gold Dots in my guns, and the heaviest bullet I can find.
Funny you still mention the 9mm, seems police departments around here are trading in their 9mm's for .45acp's. Don't believe me? Just ask around. Seems the 9mm isn't a round for penetration......
Getting to that geletin, no it is not the same as flesh, ask any EMS/Fireman. If you really want to get into a debate about that, go to www.gunsandammomag.com and register on the forum. There's PLENTY of experts that can debate w/you. Geletin blocks only give you an IDEA on how far a bullet will penetrate and expand.....trust me, geletin blocks and flesh are NOT the same thing.
Oh, and the reason why the military called it "Ball Ammo" is because they used ball powder.....not because of the actual bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Originally posted by CMR
DogJaw,
First of all, do you really think I am that stupid of using FMJ for self defense ammo???? No, I use Golden Sabers and Gold Dots in my guns, and the heaviest bullet I can find.
Funny you still mention the 9mm, seems police departments around here are trading in their 9mm's for .45acp's. Don't believe me? Just ask around. Seems the 9mm isn't a round for penetration......
Getting to that geletin, no it is not the same as flesh, ask any EMS/Fireman. If you really want to get into a debate about that, go to www.gunsandammomag.com and register on the forum. There's PLENTY of experts that can debate w/you. Geletin blocks only give you an IDEA on how far a bullet will penetrate and expand.....trust me, geletin blocks and flesh are NOT the same thing.
Oh, and the reason why the military called it "Ball Ammo" is because they used ball powder.....not because of the actual bullet.
You brought up the military, ball ammo, a "big hole", and how well it did in combat. If that's fact, and so great, why are you not using it now? It's obvious that you will only hear what you want to hear. That's fine. You seem to be one of those that "if I bought it, it's the best". The 9mm, 10mm, 38+p, 357 mag, 357 sig, 40 S&W, 45 acp are all good rounds, but ONLY with with right ammo. Done wasting my time.
 

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Naw DogJaw, I use whats reliable and proven over time. As a matter of fact, I was talking to a Glock rep about ammo and he recommended on using FMJ in the 9mm because of penetration, especially if the perp is behind a window or car door. No joke, this is what the guy told me!!! If you want, I can give you his number and name so you can hear it yourself.
Me, I'll stick to what works and thats the .45acp. You can keep your 9sillymeter...I'll stick to a big bullet that leaves a big hole thank you very much.
 
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