Ammunition Truths

I have done a few articles that spurred some interesting commentary. One that caught my attention was on the subject of ammunition for defensive situations.

I could end this article right now by saying the ammunition you use needs to be:

  1. Reliable, goes bang every time you pull the trigger
  2. You hit the target, good intentions don’t stop bag guys
  3. It penetrates to hit the vitals, an ouie is marginally interesting to a committed sociopath

I literally could walk away from this article with that alone, but I’m going to have to provide greater detail for some. Just like arguing about the caliber (see recent, Caliber Wars) arguing about defensive rounds is somewhat pointless. Some will try to make it out to be a bigger deal than it really is, but I can assure you that as long as you follow a few simple guidelines worrying about the performance of your ammunition will be the least of your worries.

If you are shopping for good defensive ammunition, I recommend you stick with the big names; Remington, Speer, Winchester and Federal. If you can obtain in sufficient quantities (minimum of 200 rounds) of their premium defense ammunition to conduct a reliability test that is a good start. Using your defensive ammunition, fire a 50 round course of fire through a cleaned and lubed pistol. Then complete a professional development session of at least 200 training rounds, I like 400 rounds personally. Then without cleaning fire the same 50 round course of fire to end the day. This will provide you honest feedback on reliability of the pistol, magazine and ammunition combination.

You can try to nitpick the whole topic, you can scan through thousands of pages of testing to have a better understanding of terminal ballistics. You can attend seminars and listen to esteemed colleagues, perform advanced testing on homemade ballistic gelatin (ok, that is kind of fun). Or, you can realize that for the majority of defensive situations a quality hollow point defensive round from a reliable manufacture will live up to it’s expectations as long as you do your part.

Some worry about over penetration, underpenetration, what happens if you miss, what happens if you use hollow points versus full metal jackets. Good lord, you can go crazy listening to all of this stuff and while I know some may have some reasonable questions as they enter this new world, it is even more importnat they not get bogged down with all the craziness.

Yes, I have a rather simplified look on defensive ammunition. As long as it is reliable and meets the minimum penetration requirements then it really boils down to my ability as a marksman to hit my intended target with sufficient rounds to neutralize the threat. Believe me, you have a lot more to worry about and when all else fails, if you really cannot decide on what to use because this guy said these were the best or that guy killed a bazillion zombies with these super duper rounds then you may find yourself in the hurt locker.

Life is complicated enough, you can make it more complicated for sure or you can simplify things. I choose to simply, I don’t get wrapped up in the debate on which is the “best” rounds. Instead, I practice my art of precision violence and apply it liberally.


3 thoughts on “Ammunition Truths

  1. Jeremiah says:

    I agree with your assessment of ammunition. A well placed shot with a .22lr has killed many a deer. I believe what boils down to is what you can handle. My wife loves her 9mm. She is still learning but improves greatly with each trip to the range. My XD .45 is a good gun for me. It has no kick and follow up shots take a split second. My favorite pistol is my 4″ barrel .500 s&w magnum. Very accurate and fun to shoot but expensive and not practical to carry. First find a gun you can go to your local store and pick up ammo for any day of the week. Guns don’t do any good without ammo so choose a caliber that is both highly available and you can shoot comfortably. Definitely stay with established manufacturers for ammo. I personally like Federal. Cheaper brands tend to jam frequently. This is just my 2 cents on the subject. 3 generations and 13 family members including myself, with Navy/ Marine Corp background.

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