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Thread: Let's talk ammo. What do you carry?

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    Regular Member SovereignAxe's Avatar
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    Question Let's talk ammo. What do you carry?

    This may have already been covered, but I did an extensive search and found nothing, so I thought I'd take it upon myself to pose the question.

    My grandfather reloads lots of ammo, 9mm being one of them (a factor in my purchase of a 9mm Walther P99 instead of a .40-he owns none, and consequently doesn't have the dies for it), so I've got a pretty standard load of homemade JHPs in it right now.

    However, I've been doing a lot of reading about ammo for self defense, and the more reading I do, the less I like the idea of using reloads for self defense. That's not to say that I don't have faith in my grandfather's reloading abilities. Quite the contrary: he is very precise in his measurements, and everything I shoot has shot better than any store bought ammo (amittedly, I've never bought any high dollar ammo). However, most data I have read has been against handloaded ammo for what seems like a few good reasons. Probably the best is forensic ballistics. Forensic analysis can determine the distance a person was shot from a gun by measuring the amount/concentration of gunblast residue on the "victim." If you use a hotter than normal load, there will be more residue on the "victim," and it could be argued that the victim in question was far enough away that you didn't have shoot them. A counter argument is to make a weaker than normal load, but who wants to do that?

    I haven't done much research into the types of bullets I have in my ammo besides weight, but I know that many manufacturers now use a special bond between the lead and the jacket, which aids in weight retention in terminal ballistics. Many other features such as low flash powders for night vision, nickel plated brass for corrosion resistance, and polymer tips to keep the hollow point from clogging with fibers are all enough to make anyone sway to what is marketed as a more effective and safer round.

    So what say ye, OCDO? Personally I'm looking towards replacing my loads with something like Hornady Critical Defense, Speed Gold Dot or Winchester PDX1. I'm leaning towards Gold Dot because they have 115gr and 124gr weights. Winchester only has 147gr (which IMO is too slow for 9mm), and their 124gr is a +P load (which my Walther isn't rated for, but could handle easily as it was built to handle .40 cal)which effectively makes it a 9mm NATO round (save for the hollow tip). Hornady only has 115gr rounds, which is probably limited due to their low flash powder. I'll probably go with Speer or Winchester, whichever I see cheaper in stores next paycheck.
    Last edited by SovereignAxe; 08-05-2011 at 09:48 PM.

  2. #2
    Regular Member Phoenix David's Avatar
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    Gold Dot for 9mm and .40

    Hornady TAP, SXT, Hydrshok for .45

    My two cents is if you go with a premium self defense round that you gun will reliably feed your good, shot placement is the critical part.
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    Regular Member okboomer's Avatar
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    Another recommendation that I have had from a 'legal eagle' was to use the same brand that your LEO uses ... in court, if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by okboomer View Post
    Another recommendation that I have had from a 'legal eagle' was to use the same brand that your LEO uses ... in court, if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you.
    The majority of law enforcement carries Gold Dot just as I do. My OC gun is a Sig P220 Carry, so I use the short-barrel version for proper ballistic performance.

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    For 9mm, I tend to use either Federal HST 147gr +P or Winchester Ranger RA9TA 127gr +P+, if the gun manual doesn't say otherwise. My preference between these two is the HST.

    For .40S&W, I use Federal 165gr HST in a Glock 23 or its 155gr variant in shorter barrels.

    The thing is, you're never going to know how any load is going to work until you have to use it, and even that may not be definitive since people react so differently when shot; just way to many variables to consider. So we read the test reports, view jelly junkies' and milk carton busters' videos, and hope there is enough information to qualify an educated best guess.

    Lastly, ammunition manufacturers are not dumb. They are in business to provide the best possible loads they can come up with for all of their markets and the civilian SD market is certainly one of them. Of course, some loads are better than others and will do a better job in the target. But all of the top rated loads are good which means it really comes down to this.

    Reliability. Does your selection load feed each and every time your slide operates? Without the highest possible reliability, the load should not be considered. Of course even this is subject to variables since you might go through six or eight boxes of your intended load and have no problems, but in an extreme dynamic encounter you might.

    Shot placement. The key to bringing a deadly encounter to an end as quickly as possible. If your chosen load is not one in which you feel confident to deliver effective and consistent rounds to target, then getting into an assailant's vital areas is questionable (it is anyway because he's not about to stand still while you send rounds into his body).

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by SouthernBoy; 09-17-2011 at 08:13 AM.
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    Regular Member SovereignAxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoy View Post
    But all of the top rated loads are good which means it really comes down to this.

    Reliability. Does your selection load feed each and every time your slide operates? Without the highest possible reliability, the load should not be considered. Of course even this is subject to variables since you might go through six or eight boxes of your intended load and have no problems, but in an extreme dynamic encounter you might.

    Shot placement. The key to bringing a deadly encounter to an end as quickly as possible. If your chosen load is not one in which you feel confident to deliver effective and consistent rounds to target, then getting into an assailant's vital areas is questionable (it is anyway because he's not about to stand still while you send rounds into his body).

    Hope this helps.
    These are two really good points. You'll have a tough time finding a negative review on a self defense round, but relibility is definitely one of, if not THE best factor when considering a cartridge. For example, if you go to cabela's and look up Hornady Critical Defense, you'll see loads of 5 star reveiws. But if you go over to ammunitiontogo.com and look them up, there are a couple of reviews that complain about duds. This is unaccepable in a self defense round, and that's enough to make me steer clear. You want the gun to go boom every time-the searing hot chunk of metal going through flesh will do the rest.

    It's truly amazing the price difference of 9mm. I've seen it as low as a box of 50 for $9 (Herter's), and as much as $24 for a box of 20 (Speer GD), which is over a 500% price difference per round (and likely a corresponding difference in quality)

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    Regular Member Michigander's Avatar
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    I personally carry reloads, other than for .32 ACP, which is a round with very tight tolerances since it's so small, so I wouldn't want to risk a kaboom with carry ammo.

    Anyway, with 10mm and .45 I exclusively carry reloads. I don't buy into the hype about it being a problem in court, nor for that matter does Michigan law, and my lawyer agrees. If someone tries to kill you, and you kill them instead, that's really all that matters. Self defense is upheld as a right in every state. Sure you might get convicted of a minor issue related to defending yourself if you're in enemy territory like Bernard Goetz was, but you won't get convicted of murder in a legit SD situation just because of your choice of weaponry.

    I personally don't think it matters a whole lot which bullet you use, just make sure it has about as much powder pushing it as your gun can safely handle, and make sure it's a good bonded JHP with a good weight for the round.

    In any case, if you do decide to carry factory ammo, it's hard to go wrong with Buffalo Bore, so long as your gun can handle it. It's expensive, but across the board among the best performing hunting and SD ammo you'll find.
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    Ammo I use

    I use Fiocchi 90Grs JHP in my .380

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    Activist Member N605TW's Avatar
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    I don't reload so I have to use factory. Right now I carry Speer Gold Dots in 115gr JHP. I am comfortable that they will be able to stop any threats that I am likely to encounter. Carry what you are comfortable with. A "bad guy" will not know the difference in a Gold Dot JHP and a Winchester Ranger-T. If it feeds reliably in your set up and you can use them effectively then you should carry them, if not find something else to use.

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    .45 ACP Speer Gold Dot short barrel 230 grain jacketed hollow points.

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    For what it is worth, I have gone back to 230 gr ball in my .45's and Blackhills 124 grs HP's in my wifes 9mm (In my opinion the 9mm benefits from HP's).


    But with that said, IMHO too much is made of what magic bullet one carries for SD. The key is bullet placement, not some mythical magic bullet. If you don't put lead in the boiler room, the best, badest, mythical manstopper in the world makes zero difference when the energy is wasted on the landscape. Hit the target and be ready to hit it agian.......


    What would you rather face? A gangbanger with an UZI loaded with the baddest 9mm's ever produced or Rob Leatham with a .22 Ruger Target Pistol with 5 rounds.

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    Regular Member Wolfgang1952's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by .45acp View Post
    For what it is worth, I have gone back to 230 gr ball in my .45's and Blackhills 124 grs HP's in my wifes 9mm (In my opinion the 9mm benefits from HP's).


    But with that said, IMHO too much is made of what magic bullet one carries for SD. The key is bullet placement, not some mythical magic bullet. If you don't put lead in the boiler room, the best, badest, mythical manstopper in the world makes zero difference when the energy is wasted on the landscape. Hit the target and be ready to hit it agian.......


    What would you rather face? A gangbanger with an UZI loaded with the baddest 9mm's ever produced or Rob Leatham with a .22 Ruger Target Pistol with 5 rounds.

    I'll take the gangbanger everyday.....
    I carry HPs in everything, and the heaver the slug the better. Heaver slugs carry better kinetic energy. And the other thing is practice, practice, and more practice. I go to the woods (my range ) at least once a month. Set up tin cans, and plastic coke bottles. Do a walk through and then do a run through. Shoot while walking and then shooting on the run.
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    Regular Member Tony4310's Avatar
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    I carry Winchester Luger 147 grain HP's for my person protection round.

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    Activist Member JamesCanby's Avatar
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    Speer Gold Dots in both the OC and BUG.

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    Regular Member SovereignAxe's Avatar
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    Well, it seems like everyone here is pretty much in agreement that bullet composition doesn't matter as much as shot placement. A valid point.

    So it would seem that anything done to a cartridge to make it more accurate and reliable is all that matters, which pretty much any self-defense round has.

    Also, Wolfgang, you're right about bullet weight-especially 9mm. I've looked at a lot of different bullet specs and sometimes the loss of velocity causes a loss of energy-especially rifle rounds. But with 9mm that is not the case. I was just noticing that a 115gr +P round still has less energy than a normally loaded 147gr round. Granted, powder type can change this. I just thought that was interesting.

    Looks like a box of Winchester PDX1 124gr +P or Speer Gold Dot 147gr is in my future (whichever is cheaper)-directly followed by a trip to the range to see if they're accurate and reliable enough.

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    Regular Member griffin's Avatar
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    I have transitioned to Federal HST for .40S&W and .45ACP, but I still have some original Black Talon in some magazines as well.

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    Activist Member SigGuy23's Avatar
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    For target shooting, I usually use Winchester 165gr .40S&W. For my self defense rounds, I use 180gr JHP's .40S&W

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    Regular Member cbpeck's Avatar
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    I agree with others... reliability & accuracy are every bit as important as brand of SD ammo.

    That being said, I've settled on carrying Federal HST 180 gr in my .40 XD SC. It meets the above criteria & has very impressive expansion in all those fancy tests. I also stocked up when I found a great deal on it, so I don't plan on changing for quite a while.

    I also have a stockpile of Federal Hydra Shok 185 gr +P in .45 that I carry in my 1911, though I don't carry the gun all that often. It was also a good deal, so I stocked up. Frankly, I'd prefer to carry the 230 gr HST load or, better yet, the 230 gr +P HST load, but I have so much of the Hydra Shok that I probably won't switch anytime soon.

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    i carry winchester 9mm+p bullets in my m&p and hornadys critical defense for my 45. question for u guys though, i recently had to use my m&p with the 9mm +p hollow points, and when i shot my front door the bullet continued to travel through my door into the door across the hall. i thought hollow points were supposed to stop? lol

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    Regular Member cbpeck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hvtopiwala View Post
    i carry winchester 9mm+p bullets in my m&p and hornadys critical defense for my 45. question for u guys though, i recently had to use my m&p with the 9mm +p hollow points, and when i shot my front door the bullet continued to travel through my door into the door across the hall. i thought hollow points were supposed to stop? lol
    That sounds like a very serious situation... I hope nobody was hurt. Did you record the event in the "True Tales of Self Defense" section of our forum? If so I'm interested in reading the thread.

    Yes, hollowpoints are designed to expand and stop, but they are designed to do so in specific substances. Most commonly this is the soft tissue of an animal or human. That's why ballistic jelly is engineered to match the characteristics of human tissue. And even when travelling through/into soft tissue, it takes a while for the bullet to expand and to lose all of its velocity. When many HPs are fired into a thin piece of metal or plywood they commonly cut a hole and keep going without much expansion because they aren't designed to expand upon impacting a hard surface. 9mm is a fast load to begin with, and a +P load is even faster. It sounds like the load you've chosen to carry provides more penetration that you desire.

    One last thought... the use of "lol" at the end of what sounds like an account of a self defense shooting is a little disturbing.

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    Regular Member SovereignAxe's Avatar
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    Hollow points are designed to expand when they hit a mostly liquid substance. Think of it this way. Water is an incompressible substance, so when a shockwave goes through it, the full force of the wave is going to hit whatever is in the immediate vicinity of the explosion. That's why fishing with dynamite is so effective, or why dropping an M-80 in a water filled container is going to do more damage to the container than if it were empty.

    It's difficult to relate this to wood, but realize that wood is very porous, and is therefore compressible. If you take a hammer to a piece of wood, you put a dent in the wood-the wood doesn't get longer to make up for the loss in volume. The air inside the wood is displaced.

    Now think of the hollow point in the bullet as a container. If that container is filled with water (or watery flesh), and the bullet continues to travel into watery flesh, this action is going to attempt to compress the flesh. However, the bullet is designed to give way, which it does. If you fill that cup up with wood, running in to more wood is just going to compress the wood, ejecting the air out of it.

    TL;DR: wood is compressible, flesh is not. wood can't transfer energy to the bullet in sufficient amounts to deform it.

    This is why one should take a serious look at their home defense weapon if OP is an issue. You can have the best deforming bullet in the industry, but if it's coming from a .357 magnum, it's going to go through several walls before it loses its energy-even if it does deform. A .45, IMO would be the ideal HD round (ignoring shotguns), as it has sufficient stopping power, but is also a slow round with a large surface area, making it less likely to penetrate as many walls. I'll stick with my 9mm until I can afford either-I don't live in an apartment or have kids.

    Quote Originally Posted by cbpeck View Post
    That sounds like a very serious situation... I hope nobody was hurt. Did you record the event in the "True Tales of Self Defense" section of our forum? If so I'm interested in reading the thread.

    Yes, hollowpoints are designed to expand and stop, but they are designed to do so in specific substances. Most commonly this is the soft tissue of an animal or human. That's why ballistic jelly is engineered to match the characteristics of human tissue. And even when travelling through/into soft tissue, it takes a while for the bullet to expand and to lose all of its velocity. When many HPs are fired into a thin piece of metal or plywood they commonly cut a hole and keep going without much expansion because they aren't designed to expand upon impacting a hard surface. 9mm is a fast load to begin with, and a +P load is even faster. It sounds like the load you've chosen to carry provides more penetration that you desire.

    One last thought... the use of "lol" at the end of what sounds like an account of a self defense shooting is a little disturbing.
    I'd say that was more of a nervous laughter.
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    Regular Member MiaStar's Avatar
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    Cool

    I use 230 grain FMJ for general target shooting and practice in my .45 (1911) (TulAmmo, Fiocchi, Remington UMC), and Hornady Critical Defense, or Magtech JHP for daily open carry ammo in my mags.

    I don't always carry the 1911 because it is sooo heavy at 2 lbs, 10.5 oz and on a 120lb frame like mine that accounts for a lot of strong side lean, lol ;o). But, I have to agree with the email poster in Sept. 2011 Guns&Ammo that said stop complaining about the weight of a gun that can potentially save your life! So I suck it up because that is very true.

    I use 129 grain copper-plated Fiocchi FMJ for target/practice in my .38 super auto, and will be getting some JHP from Able Ammo to fill my personal protection ammo void with the .38 Super. I carry the .38 super which is an all steel frame but still a lot lighter (it feels) than the 1911. But I love the 1911 for it's frame and the .45 round for stopping power. Guess I need to find and purchase a lighter, yet accurate and reliable .45 to carry daily.

    Dang, I thought .380 was kind of scarce when I first bought a .380 in May, eventhough it is now readily available (compared to 09-2010); but now I get this .38 Super and some ammo/gun sites do not carry it AT ALL! Guess I will be saving all the brass I can catch and getting this guy to reload for me, which should save me a bit on market price. I will need to build up my .38 super and .45 stash to at least 1,000 rounds each to feel comfortable.
    Last edited by MiaStar; 09-16-2011 at 06:20 PM.

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    Anything with soft lead and a hollow point, jacketed in copper.

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    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hvtopiwala View Post
    i carry winchester 9mm+p bullets in my m&p and hornadys critical defense for my 45. question for u guys though, i recently had to use my m&p with the 9mm +p hollow points, and when i shot my front door the bullet continued to travel through my door into the door across the hall. i thought hollow points were supposed to stop? lol
    Why did you shoot at your door? If there is a door between me and the BG, there is no threat. Yes, HP will expand. If your round went into the next door, it means you live in an apartment. Those doors are pretty flimsy. I hope your legal troubles are minimal. But anyway Hornady Critical Defense is what I carry.
    Last edited by golddigger14s; 09-16-2011 at 08:00 PM.
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