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Ammunition Selection

1213 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  gators_2006
Self Defense Ammunition

Bullets and Bull

The purpose of this guide is to relay information which may assist the law abiding citizen in selecting the best ammunition for a defensive firearm. “Best” is a very subjective attribute, and any recommendations given should be viewed in the context of the gun owner’s personal knowledge and experience.

Empirical data regarding one shot stopping capability of a particular cartridge have contributed to the formulation of the following ammunition performance recommendations. This information is derived primarily from the real world shooting experiences of law enforcement agencies.

“One shot stop” refers to a cartridge’s ability to make an aggressor immediately cease their threatening behavior when shot once in the torso. Head, neck, and multiple shootings are not considered in the data. “One shot stop” does not necessarily infer that a mortal wound was inflicted. It merely means that the shooting created physical injury or psychological trauma sufficient to result in cessation of aggressive or violent behavior. Death may or may not have resulted.

In addition to “one shot stop” statistics, keep in mind that a bullet striking the torso of one’s adversary ideally must penetrate deeply enough to encounter and disrupt vital organs, arteries and blood vessels. Penetration, indeed, is paramount.

You will find that the penetration characteristics of various bullet calibers complement the “stopping” information obtained from actual shootings. Penetration data are largely developed from shots fired into a ballistic gelatin designed to approximate bodily tissue. Such data also serve as the basis for the recommendations which follow regarding ammunition for personal protection.

It cannot be overstated that proper shot placement under stress is the single most important skill brought to bear in a self defense situation. Proper shot placement involves shooting the attacker in the head, the cervical spine, or the torso.

A head or spinal neck shot will immediately incapacitate. The goal of a torso shot is to produce hemorrhage by rupturing the heart or any of the major blood vessels. This will result in relatively quick cessation of hostilities. Forced collapse from blood loss will take several seconds to occur, even when primary blood vessels such as the aorta or vena cava have been destroyed. When the blood supply is disrupted in this manner, the brain of one’s assailant is deprived of oxygen needed for conscious function.

Vital organs and cardiovascular structures reside deep within the human body. Hence, in addition to proper shot placement, one must possess a caliber of bullet capable of reaching them. Under favorable conditions, 6 to 8 inches of penetration will incapacitate an assailant. As a degree of insurance, the bullet should be capable of plowing through tissue into the attacker’s bodily core from any angle of engagement, considering that vitals may be obstructed by an arm, extremely heavy clothing, or large body mass.

For this reason, ten to twelve inches of penetration potential is regarded to be the acceptable minimum for a caliber chosen for self defense. Eighteen is the maximum, considering the danger to innocent bystanders represented by a stray bullet which exits the assailant’s body. “Over kill” is unnecessary. One gains little from enduring the blast , recoil, and potential loss of control necessary for accurate follow up shots that are associated with excessively large “hunting” calibers.

Under identical conditions of shot placement, a larger caliber bullet with a penetration of 10 to 12 inches will inflict more damage to an attacker’s vital organs and structures than will a smaller caliber bullet capable of the same penetration.

Keep in mind, however, that disabling hits from a small caliber firearm, inflicted with deliberate accuracy by the intended victim, will devastate an unskilled, erratic attacker possessing a more powerful weapon.

Be aware that people can move very quickly, covering in excess of twenty feet within one and one-half seconds. In any event, be sure to fire multiple shots at your attacker.

Tactics and marksmanship will save lives of potential victims and diffuse or terminate violent encounters. Using the “best” cartridge for one’s caliber of firearm merely gives the armed citizen a technological edge in any defensive situation.

When compared to rifles and shotguns, handguns are not the most potent form of self protection. In fact, the vast majority of people shot with handguns, in excess of 80 percent, survive. Hence, seek to incapacitate an attacker with a combination of skilled shot placement and proven ammunition.
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So with this said, if shooting a smaller caliber, let's say 380, since those are pretty common and because that's all I have at the moment(better than nothing), what would your choice be. FMJ would probably solve the depth issue, but would require shot placement. HP would do more tissue damage but I don't see it going deep enough. What about a JHP, would that be more in the middle.
You're right..its better than nothing...Brownie's post above is probably your best option on Ammo. Just remember that was written by the ammo manufacturer. Speed or FPS means nothing without proper penetration. A .55 wound channel doesnt compare to a 9mm Ranger at .75. With smaller calibers shot placement and capacity is even more critical than with larger calibers. The ability to recover from recoil and get back on target is also a factor in +P loads or hot loads. To me a lightweight short barreled .380 with hot loads or even a 2" .38 spl snubby airweight revolver are just as hard to back on target as a 6" 44 magnum because of felt recoil and muzzle flip..

Question I have for all those that carry those smaller guns is,,,how often do you practice with it? I wont put more than 20-50 shots downrange with a light weight snubby, or a 380. I can put 500 rounds down range with my 9mm or my full size 1911 in an hour. I practice with what I carry and put anywhere's between 300-500 rounds down range with either on a monthly basis..If the gun you carry is to uncomfortable to shoot and practice with on a regular basis how can we expect to retain any skills learned or acquired. Skills will deteriorate without proper practice and training and that means put rounds down range. Now if anyone practices with their house gun so to speak but carries something much smaller, how good do you expect to be when the SHTF and your life and possibly the lives of your family are at stake..?

I want everyone to understand..I'm not bad mouthing smaller calibers if its all you have or can carry because of your environment or affordability. Something is better than nothing. What I do want to see is people get out of that "comfort zone" when they think its enough or because of the "the heat" or they just arent willing to sacrifice their dress code for a much better self defense gun. I hear it all the time..I dont want to wear a holster, I cant find one that works with the way I dress, I want something I can slip into my pocket or smart carry, something that is lightweight, I wear elastic band pants or shorts and a holster wont work for me..I never expect to need it, I dont go into those areas so I wont need anything hi-cap or bigger..yeah yeah yeah..

If you cant shoot 2000 rounds thru it in a weekend like we do in the Threat Focused course you probably have the wrong gun...practice with what you carry otherwise you might as well throw it at the bad guy..better chance of hitting him...
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