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Handloading defense rounds?

This is a discussion on Handloading defense rounds? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Main Category category; The debate about handloaded ammo can really get going. I've read articles by Ayoob and others, advising against it. I've ...

  1. #11
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    The debate about handloaded ammo can really get going. I've read articles by Ayoob and others, advising against it. I've never yet heard of someone being clobbered in court for defending himself with "extra deadly" handloaded ammo, but I suppose lawyers will try. Why give them the opportunity? I doubt I can load ammo at home that's truly better than premium defensive ammo.

    Back in the day, I handloaded hot JSP loads for a Browning pistol, simply because there wasn't much decent 9mm JHP available - except maybe SuperVel. Today, we have a great selection of very good defensive ammo available in all common calibers.

    If you have an odd caliber, I suppose handloading might be the logical option. But most of us carry something common.

    I'll settle for reloading to save money on practice ammo, but carrying premium commercial defensive ammo.
    “The police of a State should never be stronger or better armed than the citizenry. An armed citizenry, willing to fight is the foundation of civil freedom.” Heinlein

  2. #12
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    I have been very pleased with 124 grn hollow points from precision delta (copy of hornady XTP) and 7.6 - 7.8 gr of accurate #7. Very clean burning with low flash. I load to 1.045 COL with a fairly heavy crimp. It gets 1230 fps out of my glock 19 with a deviation of 8 fps using mixed range brass. I have been very happy with the load data from the Hornady book.

  3. #13
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    I would trust my hand loads in a personal defense situation. I would not carry them if I had any other option. If you can afford to load your own you can afford a few boxes of good factory hollow points. Run enough of them through your gun to feel comfortable that they will cycle and to know their point of aim. Load your own to a similar point of aim and practice with that. Load as much of it as you wish. If you find yourself in a SHTF situation then do what ever you need to do to stay alive.

    Remember that not only do you need to survive the gun fight you need to survive the legal system. This is not a question of the quality of you loads it is the perception that a prosecutor can present to the jury. Is the hundred dollars that you might save worth the hundred thousand you might spend defending yourself in court without any guarantee of walking free? Roll the dice if you wish. If I am on your jury rest assured that if I find against you it won't have anything to do with who loaded your ammo. Then again no prosecutor would ever let me near your jury. There was a recent case where a gentleman was convicted in a self defense killing because he used a 10MM pistol. I believe he prevailed on appeal but the cost of his defense could buy my house, a really nice car and still have money left over. I also believe that his original attorney messed up but I have seen that happen many times.

    Read Ayoob, he is a highly respected courtroom expert and instructor. He is not the only one with such an exalted resume to recommend against daily carry of home rolled ammo. I used to carry ammo of my own manufacture, I now roll my own for hunting and practice. After study I use factory hollow points for daily carry. You now know why I have made the choice that I have. Study the arguments, weigh them as you will and make your choice.
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  4. #14
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    Load data
    I looked on line at the Speer Manual and the Alliant manual (makers of Bullseye) and for a 124 gr bullet the most powder charge with Bullseye is 4.4 grs.
    The Lyman Handbook 49th Edition list bullseye max load 4.5 grs. for 125 gr bullet.
    So if your load works for you fine, but may I caution you that if you change any of the components back off on the powder charge and work up watching for signs of excessive pressure.
    If you do not have a reloading book there is much that can be learned from them.
    Happy reloading.

  5. #15
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    There are many good recipes for good defensive loads in the 115 and 147 grain JHP. As far as hand vs factory and the law it is what it is. If it is a good shooting then it is goo no matter what. Factory loads can only help your case not hurt it as long as non exotic loads are used.

  6. #16
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    Thought you might like this.

    Comments on Using Handloads for Self-Defense
    By John Ross

    Copyright 2007 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

    Many shooters who reload ask about the best recipes for self-defense loads for use in their carry guns. Certain defensive-shooting writers, most notably Massad Ayoob, advise against using any handloaded ammunition for this purpose. They paint a picture of a prosecutor demonizing the shooter for wanting to craft special ammo even deadlier and with more maiming ability than what the factories produce. The single exception Ayoob listed (and here he was tepid in his endorsement) was for someone who needed a defensive load in a powerful, deep-penetrating caliber like the .44 Magnum. To avoid overpenetration and injuring others with a shoot-through, a less-powerful loading than factory fodder might be appropriate.

    The instance of a prosecutor going after a citizen for using handloads in a defensive shooting has not actually happened anywhere that anyone can document. The Internet discussion boards call it an “urban legend from Massad Ayoob,” which is maybe not fair to Ayoob. I don’t think Massad ever claimed a specific case where it had happened, only that it could.

    There is one area where handloads have caused problems for investigators, and ironically it is mild loads like the kind mentioned above that are most likely to get the shooter in trouble. This is in those cases where there's a serious dispute about how far away the shooter was from the shootee when he pulled the trigger. Forensic experts can pin this distance down very accurately if they have the gun used and identical factory ammo. Handloads, though, can vary widely depending on powder type and pressure level. Obviously, if forensics have samples of identical ammo, like the unfired rounds still in your gun, there should be no problem, although three or four samples may not be enough to perform the needed tests. But what if you've emptied your gun? How do you prove the stuff on your loading bench is the same as the rounds you touched off? The truth is, you can’t.

    Theoretical problem area: You whip up a batch of low-recoil, mild .44 loads with low blast signature, for lower recoil and to prevent overpenetration. You encounter a group of would-be attackers, strung out on whatever is that day's drug of choice, who are out "wilding" (which is what happened to the Central Park Jogger.) They ignore your demands to stop and drop their contact weapons (pipes etc.). They keep coming and you finally pop the closest ones at 7-10 feet, firing all 6 rounds at these two who keep pressing the attack as the third and fourth flee. Thug 1 is dead, Thug 2 crippled but alive, Thugs 3 and 4 free for now until Thug 2 tells the police who they are.

    Because of your light load, the residue on the clothing of the dead and wounded is almost undetectable, similar to what a factory magnum load would generate at, say, 20 feet.

    Will Al Sharpton get involved? Will Thugs 2, 3,and 4 claim they were over 20 feet away and on their way to church service when you opened fire on them? Will they all agree you screamed a racial epithet at them and when they turned to see who the Klansman was, you just started blasting? Will police say that if you thought they were a threat you should have retreated? Will they say you fired too soon? The likeliest testimony from forensics will be "Based on the forensic evidence, we can't say with any confidence how far Mr. Citizen was from Mr. Thug when he shot him. It may have been a few feet, but it may have been over 20. We don't know."

    A prosecutor arguing that a defendant misused lethal force by creating extra-powerful handloads is an imaginative "what if" that has never actually happened in a courtroom. A prosecutor arguing that a defendant misused lethal force because he shot someone who was far enough away that he was not an immediate threat is a very real argument that has been presented to juries on many occasions.

    Having said that, realize that I carry a .44 S&W where legal and have for 28 years. I have NEVER carried factory ammo. My load of choice for the 29 is a full power load using a 275 grain Jim Harvey (Lakeville Arms) 3/4 jacket semiwadcutter hollow point that expands violently. I am revising my thinking for the much lighter 329 (which I love.) I'm leaning towards a full wadcutter out of soft lead at 1000-ish. Time for more tests with ordnance gelatin.
    “An armed society is a polite society.”

  7. #17
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    Ayoob did document at least one case where the prosecutor claimed the ammo used proved intent. It was not hand loaded but the theory still applies. He also documented cases where the remaining ammo was not test fired because the DA got the court to prohibit it being fired because that would destroy the evidence. No court has or is likely to allow any of the ammo you have at home to be admitted at trial because that would be self serving evidence. Any DA that would not object wouldn't charge you in the first place so don't count on any exculpatory evidence from the ammo to appear. They might take factory ammo with the same head stamp and test that. If it helps prosecute you, you can bet, that is the evidence you will be hearing while you sit next to that $500/hr attorney. Ayoob makes a lot of his income testifying in court for defendants. If I am going to choose between one gun expert and another I will choose the one who's expertise most closely approaches the question I am asking. Ross, Tom Gresham, and many other highly qualified gun guys don't seem to think it is a big deal, Ayoob does. If I ever have the bad luck to need an expert to testify it won't be Gresham because he doesn't do that kind of work. I would want Ayoob on my team so I choose to follow his advice. Chances are I will never draw my gun and if I do that I may not have to fire. If I never have to defend myself with a handgun what am I out, a few boxes of ammo. If I am not allowed to use the evidence that can prove my innocence what am I out? Besides my freedom it will probably be my life savings. I use good ammo in my gun to help me survive a gun fight. I carry store bought ammo to help me survive the court system. I am proud of my home rolled ammo but my ego does not require me to carry it. I am a good driver but I put good tires on my car because it makes me safer. Those tires protect me on the road and keep me out of the court room. What ever your choice I hope you never have to test the system.

    I may be more concerned about the over zealous prosecutor than most because I served on a jury where the defendant deserved a medal not a prosecution. Even the Trooper didn't think this guy was guilty and he was the chief witness for the State. I can only guess how many tens of thousands that man had to spend just so this attorney could prosecute a murder case.
    NRA,
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    http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/

  8. #18
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    OK here is an Ayoob case.

    NH v. Kennedy

    James Kennedy, a sergeant on the Hampton, NH police force, pursued a drunk driver whose reckless operation of the vehicle had forced other motorists off the road. The suspect ended up in a ditch, stalled and trying to get underway again. Advised by radio that responding backup officers were still a distance away, and fearing that the man would get back on the road and kill himself and others, Kennedy approached the vehicle. At the driver’s door, the suspect grabbed Kennedy’s Colt .45 auto and pulled it towards himself. It discharged in his face, causing massive injury.

    The reload in the gun was a 200 grain Speer JHP, loaded to duplicate the 1000 fps from a 5” barrel then advertised by Speer for the same bullet in loaded cartridge configuration.

    This was the first case where I saw the argument, “Why wasn’t regular ammunition deadly enough for you,” used by opposing counsel. They charged Kennedy with aggravated assault. They made a large issue out of his use of handloads, suggesting that they were indicative of a reckless man obsessed with causing maximum damage.
    Defense counsel hired the expert I suggested, Jim Cirillo, who did a splendid job of demolishing that argument and other bogus arguments against Kennedy at trial, and Kennedy was acquitted.

    This case dates back to the late 1970s. The local courts tell me that the case documentation will be on file at Rockingham County Superior Court, PO Box 1258, Kingston, NH 03843. File search time is billed at $25 per hour for cases such as this that date back prior to 1988.

    I'm not sure this case was about reloads.
    It was a negligent discharge. Did it discharge because it was a reload? NO
    Is this a reason not to use reloads? NO
    The charge was aggravated assault, was that because of reloaded ammunition? NO
    Was it about the massive damage the reloaded ammo caused? NO
    It was because he stuck a gun in someones face and had a negligent discharge.
    This case was 1970, I'm sure with as much talk about not using reloaded ammunition there must be a case a week.
    And if it was about reloaded ammunition the case was acquitted. Meaning that there is case law for the defendant. Meaning a prosecutor will not go down that path again because he does not want to lose another case.
    “An armed society is a polite society.”

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