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PostSubject: Ammunition selection factors   Thu 12 Nov 2015, 11:18

AMMUNITION SELECTION

Relax! This isn't about 9mm versus .45, rather it's a general look at the selection of ammunition for self-protection use.
For many this is a moot point. If you are in the military, or an officer with most police departments, you will be allowed only the regulation issued ammo in your weapons. This may be a good choice, or, abysmal, depending on how the department selects its equipment. Whatever, you are stuck with it.
For off-duty, or, civilian carriage, you have a choice, and this thread will offer some thoughts.

RELIABILITY
Above all else, the ammo must function in your weapon. There is a tendency for some shooters to carry a magic super-exotic type of ammo, “guaranteed” to stop a charging buffalo with one shot, without ensuring that it feeds and cycles consistently in their particular pistol. One reason is that exotic ammo tends to be expensive, and putting a couple of hundred through the pistol is a significant cost..... but consider the cost of failure.


[The famed Speer "Flying ashtray" A great design, but would it feed in your weapon?]

Ammunition must suit the weapon. Bullet profile, recoil impulse and gas pressure produce an individual set of characteristics which must match your weapon. Also, performance may be flawless when you are locked in, two handed, weight committed, but in a worst case scenario you might be firing one handed, from an off balance position, with a sweaty or bloody hand. Under these circumstances will the weapon still cycle that ammo?  It is essential to check that your pistol will handle your selected ammunition.

PROVEN
It's not wise to be the guinea pig for new designs. Choose a type that has been around for a couple of years, and has a track record.

SPECIAL PURPOSE AMMO
Specialised ammo is designed to maximise a particular quality; usually either massive fragmentation [such as the Glaser] or increased penetration [such as THV]


[Glaser rounds]


[Glaser frag dispersed within an arm]


[Exterior view of wound]

The problem is that we cannot predict in advance what will be required in a gunfight, and Sod's Law means that if you have a high expansion round in the chamber you will need penetration, and vice versa.


[THV high-penetration design]

Stick to general purpose ammunition, which fulfils the main task of self-protection to the best.

LEGALITIES
In the aftermath of a shooting incident, the legal system will often try to paint you in the worst possible light. Your choice of ammo is a small, but significant part of this.
In the past ammunition such as Black Talon was subject to an intense, and inaccurate, media campaign. I had actually carried the Talon for a while, as it was a decent design. However, after the media painted it as virtually Satanic, it became unwise to carry it.
Similarly, the KTW, designed as a high-penetration option, where given the label “cop-killer bullets” which persists today, long after KTW went under.


[KTW rounds]

It is sound advice to carry the same ammo as either your local, or, a prominent, police agency; assuming that they carry a decent load. In that was it is difficult for a rogue prosecutor to paint your choice as being evil.

TRAINING
The advice is to train with what you carry, but with decent designs being expensive, there is an obvious reluctance to do this. Training ammo should, however, replicate the carry ammo, especially in recoil energy, as much as possible.



[For quite a while the BAT was my choice]

We are very much into the concept of starting training with a surprise, “cold” drill. These are set up be training staff, or, your shooting partners, and can be a very simple, close problem, or, a more complex scenario. This should be shot as the first serial on a training session, and ideally, should be shot using your normal carry ammo.

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