The Lazy Man’s Guide to Choosing the Right Self-Defense Ammo

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Choosing the Right Self-Defense Ammo
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Choosing the Right Self-Defense Ammo

I’ll be the last person to claim that I’m a ballistics expert or some brilliant physics engineer who knows the ins and outs of ammunition design. However, I don’t own a TV (haven’t owned one in 10 years) and when I’m not training or shooting or spending quality time with the wife, I’m reading up on various aspects of personal protection.

And this includes ammunition information which is a deathly boring (but important) topic. And to save you the pain and suffering I’ve gone through reading boring books and articles about self-defense ammo, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell.

First off, it’s going to cost more money. Yes, you can go to Walmart and buy 9mm ammo for about 22 cents a round. But for quality ammo, you’re going to pay more than $1 per round. But it’s worth it because this stuff might save your life one day, so don’t be a cheap son-of-a-gun about it.

Secondly, when it comes to ammo…

There is full metal jacket, semi-wadcutter and jacketed hollow point, to name a few. For your self-defense ammo, I recommend jacketed hollow point rounds. Why? Because ideally, you’ll get more expansion and less penetration versus a full metal jacket round which might only create a tiny entry point and go right through a person. (In other words, it won’t expand as much.)

Now, let’s say you agree with me and you’ve decided to go with a jacketed hollow point round. Well, that’s good, but we’re not done yet. You still have to decide on the weight of the bullet. For example, do you want a 115 grain, 124 grain or 147 grain, among others? (Grain is the weight of the bullet.)

Well… here’s how it works:

The lighter the round, the faster the bullet will go, which causes it to expand more and therefore penetrate less. And the heavier a round is, it will move slower (causing it not to expand as much) and it will penetrate more. I hope I haven’t totally lost you, but in short, a 115 grain will expand more and penetrate less than a 147 grain bullet.

So which one should you get? You should try to find a healthy combination between how far a bullet will penetrate and how much it will expand. Of course, depending on who you talk to everyone has an opinion. But for a 9mm (such as my Glock 19) I like 124 grain rounds. You could get the 115 grain rounds but I wouldn’t go any lower than that, and on the other end of the spectrum I wouldn’t use 147 grain either.

Hopefully, the next time you’re looking to buy some self-defense ammunition you’ve got a better idea of what to look for and how much it’s going to cost you. Also, before I forget, make sure you go to the range and try out your new self-defense ammo to make sure your gun feeds it and doesn’t jam up. (By the way, you can’t go wrong with companies like Corbon, Speer Gold Dot or the Federal Premium loads when it comes to self-defense ammo.)