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Thread: Best Personal Defense Load?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tampa Bay Area
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfling68 View Post
    Just to add fuel to the fire, how many are killed isn't nearly as important as how fast they were stopped :-) It kinda sucks when your (well armed) target has 5 minutes to have his way with you AFTER you have fatally wounded him.
    Very true! I will say the last one took a FMJ .380 to the chest. Entered the front of the lung, nicked the heart, out the back of the lung, and stopped when it shattered a rib. The victim took two to three steps before collapsing.
    "When Government fears the people, it's liberty. When people fear the Government, it's tyranny."
    - Benjamin Franklin

  3. #12
    I'd have to say that the 110 gr +P Cor-Bon would be an excellent choice when using .38 spl. This string generated a nicely diversified set of opinions on the subject of self defense loads.
    I wanted to readdress something I said earlier, which was that lighter and faster has had better results. I should have gone on further to explain why that is. For one, it takes less energy to push a lighter bullet to greater speeds. Second and more importantly, hollow point cavities require pressure to begin and complete the expansion process. The speed of the projectile has a positive and direct coloration with the pressure exerted within the cavity. To demonstrate this effect I often ask the audience to picture a parachute. If the wind speed into the parachute is low, the parachute will inflate slowly. If the wind speed is fast, the parachute will inflate quickly and violently. While lead is not nylon, the effect is the same. Higher speed translates into higher pressure within the cavity thus causing a hollow point bullet to expand rapidly and completely early in the process of penetrating the target. Now, just as it requires energy to give motion to a projectile, energy is required to bring the same projectile to a stop. A fast moving and lighter projectile has a distinct advantage here when compared to a slower moving and heavier projectile. The lighter projectile can be stopped in a lesser distance than a heavy projectile when both are subjected to the same material or tissue. Where the heavy and slow projectile may often travel further within the tissue than the lighter projectile that was at one time moving faster. This is where energy transference comes into effect, with the ultimate goal being that the projectile comes to a stop within the tissue rather than totally penetrating the target. This is referred to as maximum energy transfer. Additionally, the faster a projectile is moving, the greater the diameter of the temporary cavity created. For this I often ask audience members to picture moving a finger through a pool of still water. Move the finger slowly and you will generate a small wake. Move the finger rapidly and you will generate a violent wake. Wakes are pressure waves. The more violent the pressure wave, the greater the destruction to tissue within the target. A bullet traveling through tissue creates a pressure wave. Tests using ballistic gelatin provide an excellent visuals of those pressure waves. Unfortunately, ballistic gelatin tests usually fail to provide the viewer with a distinction between the permanent and temporary cavities. The permanent cavity is the path of total and complete destruction. The permanent cavity the size of the projectile. The temporary cavity is the path of less than complete destruction caused by the pressure wave.
    Now, having said all this I cannot stress enough how proper training and weapon proficiency can effect your survival in a gun fight. You can carry the finest weapons and ammunition available, yet if you are incapable, or unwilling to put them to proper use, they are worthless. It is also worth mentioning as another poster already has stated, that any ammunition you use must be of superior quality, and must function properly at all times with the chosen weapon.
    I apologize if some might consider this post lengthy. I just wanted to provide you with a clear understanding of the physics involved. I hope the information is helpful. For those that are curious as to what my credentials might be, I was once a weapons technician and close combat instructor in the U.S.M.C., and then later police officer, and range officer for a law enforcement agency near Atlanta Georgia.
    Last edited by GregAllen; 09-02-2009 at 01:23 AM. Reason: spelling

  4. Quote Originally Posted by Wolfling68 View Post
    Just to add fuel to the fire, how many are killed isn't nearly as important as how fast they were stopped :-) It kinda sucks when your (well armed) target has 5 minutes to have his way with you AFTER you have fatally wounded him.

    On a side note, in the early 1900s, the US Military facing a drugged up foe (sound like something you might face?), detemined a .45 was required to stop them. My undereducated lay opinion is use the biggest gun you can carry and use proficiently. The bigger the bullet, the bigger the wound channel, and the greater the stoppping power is my understanding.
    Keep in mind that the military must use FULL METAL JACKET rounds. No hollow points permitted under the GC.

    I'm not terribly fussy although different weather and clothing and circumstances can all be taken into consideration (you don't want that .357 Magnum passing through your assailant and the wall behind him/her.

    I just stick with Speer Gold Dots or Federal HST (Hydra Shock Two) and take em in +P loads if my pistola will handle it. I keep in mind what's behind my target (although I have yet to need to draw on an assailant thank goodness). There are lots to choose from and plenty of reports online about the efficacy of most rounds - you can't go too far wrong with the above unless you are in an airplane.

    Whatever you choose, stay with it. Don't mix and match rounds. You want to know that (a) your gun will function reliably with that round; and (b) your gun is generally on target with that round. Mix and match and you are bound for a surprise when you least want it. Lastly, don't cheap out. Your gun may run like a champ all day with FMJ rounds and choke with hollowpoints. Practice with what you carry.

    Last but not least, keep abreast of state laws. For instance, I believe in NJ, even though you are not going to be able to carry in all liklihood unless a LEO (in which case you wouldn't be asking this question) if you get caught with a hollowpoint rolling around under the seat you go directly to jail without passing GO. Also, some states prohibit magazines over ten rounds I believe and if you carry one in the chamber that gives you eleven to start. I personally carry two spare magazines when I travel on my offside in a black double carrier with a snap cover that does not scream "GUN!" if it happens to show. The concealed carry on the other hand, I concentrate on keeping hidden and tend to use SOME level of retention holster - the last thing you want is someone grabbing your carry piece and murdering their estranged wife with it. The least I try to use is Level 1 retention.

    Keep safe.

  5. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Twin Falls, Idaho
    Asking a group that kind of question is like asking 100 people, "What is the best candy bar?" I personally use Winchester SXT in my P3AT and MagSafe in my 9mm and 45. The actual answer has already been given though. Whatever is in your gun at the time you need it is THE BEST.
    Good Luck!!!

  6. #15
    Slightly off topic, but if you can't hit what you're aiming at, especially under stress, it doesn't matter what you shoot. So, train, train, train! Ok, and carry the biggest gun you can.

  7. #16
    I am partial to the following,
    1- Triton Quik-Shok, splits into 3 pieces on impact
    2- CCI Gold Dot, Plated hollow point, does well in tests through glass
    3- Remington Goldon Saber, does well in tests against auto body pannels
    4- PMC Starfire, it EXPANDS sometimes to even twice the original caliber
    5- Hornady Vector, not your ordinary tracer ammo, it's a hollowpoint to boot
    6- Corbon Pow-R-Ball, the hollowpoint that feeds like hardball
    7- CCI shotshell, for pest control purposes, not self-defense

    Yeah, you see alot of the big names on my list. That's because they make ammo that consistantly works. Like a previous poster said, reliability is everything. The .22WMR from your NAA mini revolver that hits your target, does more for you than the .44Mag that hung up on the feedramp of your L.A.R. Grizzly 1911 style pistol.

  8. Polymer filled JHP

    The FBI ran extensive tests on handgun and rifle calibers to determine their effectiveness at various real-world situations, like heavily clothed perps, shooting through doors or auto glass. This stemmed from an actual incident back on April 11, 1986 in Miami, in which some perps, who had sustained fatal injuries from FBI agents, continued to fight for an extended period of time, killing several agents before succumbing to their wounds.

    Bottom line, a JHP with pre-formed skives for programmed expansion makes great wound channels, but can plug up on clothing or expand prematurely on hitting non-organic targets. Hornady solved it by filling the HP with a low-profile polymer inert, which penetrates clothing without expansion, and then acts as a hydraulic accelerator when soft tissue is encountered. Basically, they confirmed the original design of their SST bullets, then reshaped them for common pistol calibers.

    Here is a link to a plain-english summary of their test methods: CALIBERS -- FBI Ballistic Test Protocol.

    Here is a link to some data from Gabe Suarez regarding bullet construction, penetration, overpenetration, and utility for self defense:Best Choices for Self Defense Ammo.

    Personally, i like Hornady Critical Defense in my semis, and LeverEvolution in my .357.

    And hope i never, ever, have to find out whether it works.

    Hope you find this interesting reading. I have.
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants ... for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

  9. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    South Carolina USA
    This question is much like: "What is the best SD handgun?"

    There is NO "Best"; other than the "best" for you.

    The reason for this is there are "countless" situations and scenarios in which you may find yourself in a SD predicament. Each one contains it's own "unique" set of concerns. The best way to address these concerns will also change depending on other unknowns.

    For instance:
    Lets say it's in the middle of summer, your in a crowd when an assault takes place. Collateral damage/DEATH from "over" pentration could be a REAL problem if you engage an assailent.

    So, is it best to have a large caliber round that will easily penetrate multiple layers of clothing and still penetrate 12" into a suspect?
    Might a smaller caliber such as a 380acp that has a LESSER chance of over penetration be a better choice.

    IF an assailent is wearing heavy clothing or light armor of some type, what caliber may work best?
    A Large caliber FMJ or Large JHP; maybe?

    What If:
    you realize an assailent is wearing heavy clothing or body armor, and you have NO choice but take a head shot to stop the assault, what caliber might be best?

    A 380acp that is easier to shoot accurately and is less likely to pass through and go to parts unknown; or a large 45acp.

    What if:
    you face a lone assailent on PCP?
    A 1911 with 230gr JHP's might be a good choice.

    What if you have to face 4,5,8 BGS?
    Now a 19rd 9mm XD or Glock might not be bad choices.

    So you can see; there is really no "BEST" in caliber or handgun. You just need to decide what works for you.

    Ask yourself what is the "MOST" important thing in a handgun?
    HD or CC (daily?)-- Small & comfortable or Large and more accurate?
    Capacity or Caliber?-- How good/accurate are you; especially under pressure?

    I hope this might help you reconsider the "What is best---" concept.

  10. #19

    Carry what cops carry

    With credit to Massad Ayoob, find out what cartridges your local or county or state or federal agency uses and use those. If you don't like one (local pd for example), keep checking until you find one that you like.

    Downside: you may not find the absolutely newest version of things because these have been extensively tested and found to be sufficient for law enforcement use.

    Significant upside: If you need to use them, and find yourself in court, having to defend your choice of ammo, this selection will save you a lot of problems. Why? Because such and such agency, after lengthy testing and experience have selected this same round as their choice. And they have the mission to be as safe and effective as they can be. They are always hollowpoints, as there is significant experience that shows using them is more effective and safer to the public than using any other kind. Instead of having to defend your choice against charges of being a cruel and inhuman person, you can tell them to take that up with the police as you were taking their example.

    You can get the info by talking with the police, but make a written record of the conversation and keep it on file. I have a copy of the State Police's contract to buy the rounds, showing that they like Federal Hydroshoks in my favorite caliber.


  11. You are seeing good advice and commentary here. There is no single "best" self defense round. It very much depends on the situation and what you can comfortably handle. No sense loading up .45 +P++ if they are going to blow the handgun right out of your hand. You need to be able to make multiple, accurate shots and the key is speed AND accuracy with both YOU and the TARGET moving. It is a tall order and I have read reports where a hundred rounds have been exchanged with zero hits. I have also read reports of a single round to a home invader by an octogenarian in .22LR that dropped him on the way out the back door (how on earth she got the penetration is beyond me - it was a round through the heart to boot and the bad guy managed to climb down the stairs and make it out the back door before dropping). (Documented in "Thank God I had a Gun").

    Personally? I carry Federal HydraShocks and Speer Gold Dots in 9mm and .45 ACP in +P or +P+. Depends on the weather and my clothing. I have never felt undergunned with either but prefer to carry my .45 if I can manage it. When I travel I travel with both and have a safe fastened to the floor in the back of the SUV for interstate transport where I am not licensed (sic).

    I surely would not hang my hat on a .22 revolver for self defense like the gal did in the book mentioned.... but she took very careful aim apparently, resting the gun on the bed while hiding behind it (they took the bedsheets as evidence). But if that's all you have and you can handle (remember, she's 90 ish) more power to you.

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