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Choosing the Right Self Defense Ammo...

Discussion in 'Ammunition' started by SHOOTER13, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    If you’re considering purchasing a firearm for personal defense, there are a number of important decisions that need to be made before you buy. The primary decisions are which model and caliber handgun you’ll carry, and these are important considerations.

    You need a firearm that is comfortable to carry and shoot, and it needs to be chambered in a caliber that produces manageable recoil and generates enough energy to stop an attacker. Many new shooters spend a great deal of time researching which firearm best suits their needs, and, since this is a gun you are relying on to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones during a dangerous encounter, this is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

    Relatively few shooters, however, spend much time selecting the proper self defense ammo, and that is a mistake.

    A bullet’s effectiveness or “stopping power” has a great deal to do with how that bullet is constructed. Lead bullets, for instance, tend to expand very rapidly, because lead is a soft metal. For this reason, all-lead bullets aren’t considered an optimum choice for self-defense. Even in powerful calibers like the .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 ACP, lead bullets tend to deform rapidly and don’t penetrate as well as copper jacketed bullets, and that lack of penetration can cause serious problems in a defensive shooting situation.

    At the other end of the spectrum are full metal jacket bullets, often referred to as FMJ. As the name indicates, these bullets have a core (usually made of lead) that is fully surrounded by a copper jacket. Because copper is harder than lead, these bullets tend to penetrate very well; because they do not expand, however, there is relatively little transfer of energy or damage when compared to other bullet designs.
    Therefore, FMJ bullets offer great penetration, but don’t shed a lot of energy or create a lot of shock, which are important to stopping an attack. In a self-defense situation, over-penetration is not desirable due the increased risk of collateral damage to any bystanders that may be in the path of the bullet.

    Engineers have worked hard to develop high-quality self defense ammo that combine the deep penetration of jacketed bullets with the high levels of energy transfer and shock created by an expanding lead bullet. The goal is to accomplish all this without over-penetrating through the target.

    [​IMG]
    An example of a hollow-point bullet recovered after expansion.

    The most successful defensive bullet design has historically been the jacketed hollow point, or JHP. These bullets have a lead core that expands and transfers energy, as well as a partial copper jacket that controls the expansion of the lead for deep penetration. The lead nose of the bullet has a hollow tip that initiates expansion upon impact, the copper jacket slows that expansion, and energy transfer and penetration are balanced.

    This balance of lead and copper works well in most instances provided the lead portion of the bullet remains attached to the copper jacket. If the jacket and core separate, then penetration and expansion both suffer, and the defensive bullet doesn’t perform as it should (and if you need a defensive bullet to perform you really, really need it to work as advertised).

    To remedy this, companies use a process called bonding to secure the jacket to the core. Electrochemical bonding is a process that, in essence, welds the lead core to the jacket in an effort to prevent separation. Mechanical bonding is a process that locks the jacket and core together during the core and jacket assembly with a knurl or cannelure. Because of this, bonded JHP bullets are widely considered the premier defensive bullet on the market.

    Regardless of the caliber or weapon you carry, the bullet alone is responsible for stopping an attacker. All bullets are not created equal, though, and for that reason, you need to be certain that your concealed carry handgun is loaded with high-quality defensive ammunition. Spending hundreds of dollars on a firearm for personal defense then loading it with the cheapest ammunition you can find is a bad idea.

    So, what type of ammunition should you buy? Here’s a list of several top choices, all of which were designed with one goal in mind — saving your life.

    [​IMG]
    Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection

    Speer pioneered bonded core bullets, and the brand’s Uni-Cor bonding process secures the jacket to the alloy lead core and virtually eliminates the odds of jacket/core separation.

    The bullet’s unique hollow point design is formed in two stages — the first controls how far the bullet can expand; the second determines the rate of expansion. This two-stage design does an effective job balancing expansion and penetration. Smooth bullet profiles and nickel-plated cases ensure reliable feeding in your firearm, and these rounds are loaded with quality CCI primers for proper ignition.

    Personal Protection ammunition is available in a wide variety of calibers including popular choices like .380 Auto, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .38 Special.

    [​IMG]
    Federal Premium Personal Defense HST

    Until recently, HST bullets, which have a copper jacket and lead core, were only available to law enforcement professionals. But Federal changed all that with the introduction of their Premium Personal Defense HST ammunition.

    HST is an example of mechanically-bonded bullet. The copper jacket thickness of each HST bullet is matched to caliber to provide the optimum balance of penetration and expansion. The jacket also has notches that peel backward when the bullet strikes, and the nose cavity is designed to penetrate various barriers. It’s surprising how effectively heavy clothing can slow a bullet, and that means you’ll be transferring less energy to your target.

    Generally, heavy clothing is going to have two effects on a bullet. First, it is a tougher barrier to push through, so the bullet will exert energy to overcome it. Also, heavy clothing will partially block or fill the hollow point as the bullet tears through it. This means there is less tissue in the hollow point cavity to initiate expansion. With less tissue, the expansion will be slower and occur deeper inside the target, resulting in a bullet that can penetrate deeper before it expends all of its energy.
  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    All HST bullets I’ve recovered after firing performed extremely well, even those that passed through heavy barriers.

    [​IMG]
    American Eagle Jacketed Soft Point

    American Eagle’s Jacketed Soft Point ammunition offers energy-shedding expansion, deep penetration and costs less than many competing defensive loads. If your ammo budget is limited, this is a far better option for self-defense than soft lead or FMJ bullets, and American Eagle ammunition is carefully designed to be reliable and perform consistently.

    The jacketed soft point design is similar to JHP bullets, and the copper jacket/lead core design serves to balance penetration and expansion. These bullets are available in several personal defense calibers such as the powerful .327 Federal Magnum.

    [​IMG]
    Federal Premium Guard Dog Ammunition

    As previously stated, the majority of self-defense bullets have a lead core and copper jacket that balance expansion and penetration. Not so with the Guard Dog, a unique design that is actually a full metal jacket expanding bullet. Yes, I know that I stated earlier that FMJ bullets have copper jackets and don’t expand, but Guard Dog is unlike any other bullet on the market.

    The front half of the bullet is comprised of a polymer core wrapped in a metal jacket, and when the bullet strikes a target, that polymer core gets “squished” and expands along stress lines in the metal. The result is that the bullet continues to penetrate yet expands to create a larger wound channel and more shock.
    The FMJ design makes the Guard Dog a smooth-feeding cartridge. It’s very accurate, penetrates well and expands like a traditional JHP bullet. The Guard Dog bullet is also designed to expand when shot through barriers like drywall or plywood. These materials can clog hollow point bullets and not allow them to expand. If a bullet does not expand, you run the risk of over-penetration. By ensuring expansion through these barriers, the bullet loses its energy quicker. This makes Guard Dog an excellent option as a home defense round, as it reduces the chance of collateral damage if a shot is off-target and travels through walls.

    Speer Personal Protection Short Barrel

    This load shares the same qualities you’ll find in the standard Personal Protection line, including nickel cases and Speer bullets with two-stage construction, optimized for short-barreled handguns.

    Many defensive loads are developed for guns with barrels that are 4 or 5 inches in length. There are a host of new defensive handguns, however, that have barrels that are 3 inches or less in length, which leads to lower muzzle velocities. Standard ammunition doesn’t always perform well in these short-barreled defensive guns, so Speer launched their Short Barrel line of ammunition.

    These loads are designed specifically for small handguns using special propellants, and they provide better results from compact, lightweight carry guns.

    Federal Premium Personal Defense Low Recoil

    Wouldn’t it be nice to practice with a defensive load that didn’t batter your hands with heavy recoil? Federal Premium thought so, and that’s why they developed their Premium Personal Defense Low Recoil ammunition.

    Lighter bullets at higher velocities help significantly reduce recoil, yet they provide plenty of stopping power for dangerous situations. Low Recoil ammunition is loaded with Hydra-Shok bullets. These jacketed hollow points have been around since 1988 and have earned an enviable reputation among law enforcement professionals and firearms experts.

    If you want plenty of power with less punishment, this is your ammo.



    GUNS & AMMO Magazine: Shoot 101...by Brad Fitzpatrick

    ** NOTE: All of the ammo examples above are sponsored by paid advertisers...thus recommendations can be biased...YMMV **



    Elbert Garrett and TJ Johnson like this.
  3. TJ Johnson

    TJ Johnson 20g

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    584
    Good informative post Shooter
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  4. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    5,355
    Why are you not yet replacing Mike Venturino ?
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  5. meanstreak

    meanstreak .30-06 Supporter

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    1,902
    I just reread this . The first time I read it several months ago I just sort of skimmed over it. After reading it again I can say it has made me really think about the ammo I use for different situations. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  6. VTBuck110

    VTBuck110 Copper BB

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    6
    Thank you again from a newbie to the forum. This is excellent info, gonna re-read it again myself. Your time in compiling this is appreciated.
  7. Tom396

    Tom396 .30-06

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    1,483
    At the other end of the scale is this stuff:

    [​IMG]

    Fine for range ammo, but don't expect it to actually expand, it definitely doesn't. At least not from a handgun. I did get it to expand out of a Hi Point carbine barrel, but out of a pistol it might as well just be a plain rounded point lead projectile. Even the jacket did nothing. As soon as it encountered a barrier, it shed off completely. The lead continued down range without any expansion. As long as you don't expect any expansion, it will go bang. Take care. Tom Worthington
  8. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    13,520
    That looks like it should expand some. It even has little lines in the jacket.
  9. Tom396

    Tom396 .30-06

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    1,483
    It definitely doesn't, though. I got the same results as these guys:



    ...but I will admit that it worked better in a much longer barrel (16"?). The jacket still didn't do squat, though. It came off immediately. But at least I was able to recover the projectile and find some expansion. Take care. Tom Worthington
    John A. likes this.
  10. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    6,558
    I bought one box of that PPU in 9mm and it fired reliably in my SDx9 but after I cleaned my gun I decided not to buy a second box.
    meanstreak likes this.
  11. Elbert Garrett

    Elbert Garrett 20g Supporter

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    766
    I`ve always been a firm believer in carrying what you practice with and recently after years of redneck testing various types SD ammo I`ve reverted to using a 124gr ball ammo......

    100_8498.JPG
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  12. Ak47Lover

    Ak47Lover Copper BB

    Messages:
    3
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
    meanstreak likes this.
  13. Isaac22lr

    Isaac22lr .22LR

    Messages:
    27
    You use ball ammo? in a 9mm? looks like your setting yourself up for some over penetration my man. why not buy some Speer gold dot 124g JHP's?
  14. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    13,520
    Sorry, couldn't help but notice the comments you made here and in other topics and I just wanted to ask you an honest question. Or, I guess try to make a simple statement so you can understand why I think the way I do.

    If you have a bullet (pick one--I don't care which).

    If you had to shoot someone with it, would you rather it go half way through them and stop, or go all the way through and then stop somewhere behind them?

    I ask because if you only make it half way through them and stopped, wouldn't that mean that you didn't have enough energy to make it all the way through? which would require more energy?

    Even if the bullet exits the back and dropped straight down to the floor rolling down the back seam of their pants, my bullet is going to have more energy hitting the person and making it all the way through them, rather than going in them a little and stopping somewhere.

    The energy of the bullet that passes completely through is not wasted and doesn't just disappear. More energy to make it all the way through something is still having more energy dumped into it.
    meanstreak likes this.
  15. Isaac22lr

    Isaac22lr .22LR

    Messages:
    27
    A 124g FMJ, and a 124g JHP, have the same energy, if they are traveling at the same rate of speed. It's not like a FMJ naturally is more powerful than a JHP, it's about how the bullet acts in the target. Dumping all the energy means you get the full effect of the projectile, verses wasting some energy going clean through someone. I'm pretty sure most FMJ 9mm's go 25"+ in ballistics gel, way over the 18" maximum needed.

    And for the question, I'd rather it be stopped in someone, just like the FBI and police would. It's simply proven to be more effective on targets, and less of a chance of shooting someone or something you'd rather not.
    BigT and meanstreak like this.
  16. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    13,520
    Not to insult any police officers that are good shots, but using NIJ standards is just a MINIMUM baseline.

    And in honesty, I have seen a lot of body cam footage where an enormous amount of bullets were expended by multiple officers with the majority of them being misses. So, while yes the police do have to worry about what's behind someone, I'm sure I could find a bunch of video's where some have no regard for where those bullets are going in the first place, much less where they're going to stop. So, I can't really use that example to base anything on.

    Back to minimum standards, 18 inches probably wouldn't go half way through me. *If I grew 3 more inches, I'd be perfectly round. :laugh:

    As for whether 18 inches is enough penetration to reach vitals areas, that depends on a lot of things. And not just taking into consideration of how deep the bullet is going to go when it does actually enter you.

    The angle the bullet goes and what it has to go through and yes that does include walls and stuff too. Maybe doors. maybe car doors. But my point is, not much in a human body actually reacts like ballistics gelatin. There are bones and ligaments and cartilage and clothing and other things to have to deal with too. So, give me the bullet that is going to penetrate the most. A bad guy breaking into your house and trying to kill you is not just going to stand still like a paper target. Those extra few inches of penetration may not just be ideal, but may be what is needed for you to live to talk about it another day.
    meanstreak, Djcala and Isaac22lr like this.
  17. meanstreak

    meanstreak .30-06 Supporter

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    1,902
    Remaining somewhat under control in a high stress situation, in my opinion is more important than what type of ammo one is using.

    Lets face it, someone trying to kick down your front door is high stress. Until it happens none of us know how we would react. The ammo I need then is what the nearest gun has in it.
    Djcala, Elbert Garrett and John A. like this.
  18. Djcala

    Djcala .30-06 Supporter

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    1,635
    Training/experience is gonna trump equipment, as for bullets well gimme the best i can get BUT ole Wild Bill put a couple away with a plain .36 cal roundball most would surely call anemic by todays standards, also just read the story of the 74 year old lady who bought .22lr pistol for defence, she bought what she could handle and manipulate not what GUNS Magazine insists on. That very evening a creeper came calling he is now dead. Yes the lowely sad .22lr still a deadly round properly employed with a dash of luck im sure. But Im still using a shotgun slug given opportunity to choose if i absolutely know i have to put a zombie down no question right now.
    meanstreak likes this.
  19. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    13,520
    I have a pretty good idea. At the risk of coming across as very rude to whoever is trying to kick my door down. :cheers:
    meanstreak likes this.
  20. Djcala

    Djcala .30-06 Supporter

    Messages:
    1,635
    Buahahahahahaha d48156a6e1aef868c6a3cdb28b4c5eae.jpg
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