Recently someone asked me what type of ammo he should buy for self defense for his pistol. Whether you’re carrying open or concealed in this dangerous world or planning the defense of your home, the type of ammo you use matters and I’m not talking about caliber. I’m also not going to talk about shotguns shells (this week). Specifically, what I’m talking about is pistol ammo type and make.
Today, self-defense-minded gun owners can chose from dizzying array of different types of ammo. Some are good, some are bad, some are okay. Here are some general rules to consider before buying:
Hollow-point bullets work best
Flat tip, ball ammo will not produce the same ballistic wound as hollow-point rounds. The biggest difference that should interest self defense shooters is in the crucial internal damage necessary to put down an attacking human. The characteristic mushrooming of a hollow-point round provides shooters with a projectile designed to expand and create a large cavity in tissue, but also not over penetrate the target. You don’t want over penetration, you want just enough penetration.
Note that these types of bullets expand or “mushroom” as opposed to breaking apart upon contact with the target. It is my informed opinion that self defense shooters should avoid bullets that splinter. Fragmentation just sends pieces everywhere, dispersing the rounds energy and creating smaller internal wounds. Frag rounds or RIP rounds may be good when shooting steel, but I don’t think they work as well on bodies as other available rounds.
Bonded bullets work best
Bonding allows the jacket to stay with the core. In turn, this keeps the full bullet in one piece when shot into a person with thick clothing or through glass or bone, for instance. What that does is allow better cavitation wounding when penetrating soft tissue. As mentioned above, self defense ammo should emphasis larger wounds.
Beware of +P ammo
Shooting hot loads can backfire, no pun intended. Seriously though, some barrels can’t handle uber-high velocities. Some shooters can’t handle that higher recoil either. While +P has it’s advantages, especially in .38, if you want to get a +P in 9mm, you may just want to go to a .357 Sig round.
In the end, after someone asked me my opinion on what type of self defense round to carry, I suggested either a Speer Gold Dot or a Corbon DPX round. You cannot go wrong with either.