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Old January 28, 2013, 11:07 AM   #1
Guv
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Handgun Calibers

So if all handgun calibers are concidered weak and not that effective in stopping the bad guy why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo? Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
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Old January 28, 2013, 11:10 AM   #2
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Because we want every advantage we can get.

Use your pistol to get you to your more effective rifle etc.
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Old January 28, 2013, 11:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo? Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
Well, simply do both. I purchase what might be called higher performance ammo for carry purposes, but shoot plenty of lower end target ammo.
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Old January 28, 2013, 11:24 AM   #4
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I'm not one that thinks that handguns are all that under powered and I'm not one that thinks that ammo you buy in 20 packs is all that much better than the cheaper ammo you buy in 50 packs. But I don't care what you shoot, hand gun, rifle or shotgun, some bullet/ammo designs are far better than others. Take rifles for instance. When things count you couldn't pay me to run FMJ's or solids in it. Easy in, easy out, little else in the middle. Handguns are no different. Does that mean that you have to go out and spend a buck a shot to be well armed, heck no. Take my .357; I'd be just fine with Rem 125gr SP's as anything else.
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Old January 28, 2013, 11:40 AM   #5
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A .45 Colt with a 300 grain plus hard cast bullet, with a decent meplat, and a hot load, will kill anything on earth with half, or less, of the "power" of a rifle bullet that can't come close to humanely killing "anything on earth." Wound characteristics of rifle bullets are typically different than handguns. Relying on expanding bullets and a handgun is a challenge as rifles have the velocity to destroy a whole lot of tissue with an expanding bullet, whereas the handgun can't match that. But again, a .45 Colt, loaded as noted, will easily out-penetrate any rifle using an expanding bullet.
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Old January 28, 2013, 11:44 AM   #6
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It depends on the caliber. With 357 mag, it is hard for a bullet NOT to be effective. Just about any 125 - 158 grain hollowpoint with 500-600 ft-lb of energy is going to have good terminal performance.

Same is true for 10mm. And 44 mag, hot 45 LC (as noted above) and probably 45 ACP+P as well. I don't see how advanced bullet technology is needed with a 200 grain (or heavier) projectile with 500 ft-lb (or more, or a lot more) of energy.

Now if we are talking about 38 spcl, or 380, then yes, I think bullet technology can make important improvements. Look at how far the 9mm has come... 30 years ago, 9mm hollowpoints were marginal. Now their terminal performance has been greatly improved.
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Old January 28, 2013, 01:59 PM   #7
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Well, simply do both. I purchase what might be called higher performance ammo for carry purposes, but shoot plenty of lower end target ammo.
My bet would be that most people do this, especially with pistols.
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Old January 28, 2013, 02:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guv
So if all handgun calibers are concidered weak and not that effective in stopping the bad guy why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo? Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
Personally, I carry a 1911 in .45 Auto, so if I hit a bad guy with one shot in the hand it picks him up and throws him across the room, so I don't know about the "underpowered" stuff ...

Seriously, FMJ in any of the common handgun calibers has a very good chance of over-penetrating ... shooting right through the intended target, and possibly also wounding an innocent person beyond. What we want in a self-defense round is for ALL the bullet's energy to be dissipated in the intended target. That's what modern hollow-point ammunition is designed and intended to do. The expansion creates a larger wound channel, plus the expansion helps prevent over-penetration while maximizing the amount of energy dissipated into the target.
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Old January 28, 2013, 02:59 PM   #9
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Yes, I hope most of us do both.....

Personally I carry a 5" 1911 in .45 acp ....and I shoot the same model, same mfg gun ...in a 9mm ( 5" 1911 ) to keep my practice ammo more affordable....
and while I shoot some .45 acp ( RN, FMJ as well ) ....I don't shoot the more expensive 230gr Hydra Shok defensive ammo - except once every 3 or 4 yrs - to make sure its still running 100% in the gun.....

I try to practice with about 6 - 8 boxes a week ( 300 - 400 rds ) with some tactical drills ( double taps, etc / reload drills, .....)....
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Old January 28, 2013, 04:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
So if all handgun calibers are concidered weak and not that effective in stopping the bad guy why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo?
1. Seeking any additional edge possible for the firearm we carry day in/day out.

Quote:
Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
I thought everyone (at least those who feel they should be responsible and train) was already doing this. This last question gives two of the three reasons for reloading:

1. Less expensive, which should lead to...
2. Getting more time behind the gun.

I kick in primary reason number three:

3. Custom tuned loads for your firearm (you can even create something which closely approximates your self defense load for reduced practice cost)
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Old January 28, 2013, 05:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
So if all handgun calibers are concidered weak and not that effective in stopping the bad guy why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo? Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
Everyone has an opinion. ALL handgun rounds are not weak or ineffective. I asked the same question when my agency transitioned to semi auto's; "Why not spend the money on training, that would negate the need for a higher cap pistol?" I was given the stink eye and a Beretta 96D.
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Old January 28, 2013, 09:45 PM   #12
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Personally I do practice with lesser expensive ammo and do feel caliber makes a difference. My experience with handguns on live targets is confined to game animals and livestock. I have seen big differences between loads from the same caliber much less altogether different calibers.
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Old January 28, 2013, 10:09 PM   #13
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No one thinks the average handgun is as affective as a good centerfire rifle or shotgun, but then, no one really wants to get shot with a handgun, either.
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Old January 28, 2013, 10:13 PM   #14
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Amazing the difference between the "lowly" 30-30 and say the .357 Magnum or similar caliber.
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Old January 29, 2013, 01:42 AM   #15
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Amazing the difference between the "lowly" 30-30 and say the .357 Magnum or similar caliber.
If the 357 is fired from a carbine they are very close with the edge going to the 30-30.
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Old January 29, 2013, 02:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
.So if all handgun calibers are concidered weak and not that effective in stopping the bad guy why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo? Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
FMJ isn't designed to expand and has a high risk of zipping right through a target, possibly causing collateral damage to whatever is on the other side. Hollowpoint ammo is designed to expand, both causing greater target damage and preventing excessive penetration.

Practicing with FMJ range ammo is certainly fine and encouraged. Heck I use my own lead bullet reloads. I guarantee you though I'm going to want a +P hollowpoint if God forbid I ever have to use my handgun.
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Old January 29, 2013, 09:03 AM   #17
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So if all handgun calibers are concidered weak and not that effective in stopping the bad guy
I completely disagree with this premise. I think it may be the result of the constant caliber wars and never-ending blather by all the armchair experts trash-talking other guys' guns. After a while it is all so negative that people start believing a handgun is not good for anything.

David
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Old January 29, 2013, 06:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Seems we may be better off buying the more inexpnensinve types of ammo (FMJ) and getting more time behind the gun?
Or - one could simply take up handloading and load rounds that are the ballistic twin of the more expensive premium defensive rounds & have the best of all worlds.
.
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Old January 29, 2013, 08:33 PM   #19
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db4570, good point.
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Old January 30, 2013, 11:34 PM   #20
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I don't worry to much about having the latest greatest ammo design. All we could use in the military was FMJ and it works just fine for stopping a threat. I do carry jacketed hps in my edc but my reloads are jacketed rounds. In revolvers my reloads are hard cast lead. I figure if I get down to reloads I need to worry more about penetration through cover.
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Old January 31, 2013, 03:23 AM   #21
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There are plenty of instances where rifles and shotguns have failed as well.
Unless you have a solid hit on the central nervous system, be prepared to fire again.
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Old January 31, 2013, 03:51 AM   #22
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I buy expensive ammo to carry because of the effects it will have after shooting at your intended target. I don't want a bullet going through my intended target and possibly causing harm elsewhere. Ammo technology has changed a lot in the years and I'll take every safety precaution when loading my firearms for self defense.

For personal and home defense I like to have hollow points to reduce the chance of something going through my walls and out into the general public, or to keep my bullet inside of my intended target and not through them and onto something else.

For the winter I will switch to just a FMJ range round or make sure I'm carrying a +P round since everyone is walking around with so many more layers on.

If SHTF, you're right, use whatever you have laying around. For range time I just use the cheapest FMJ round I can find.
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Old January 31, 2013, 12:23 PM   #23
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Trucks have more power and Ferrari's are faster so why do most of us drive Chevy's and Fords? Handguns are only weak compared to rifles and it isn't a fair comparison. Unless you have a spare arm or don't mind a long barreled gun slung to your back While you are out and about doing whatever it is you do. The logical choice is something you can carry that is small light, not in the way but sufficient to do the job.

For those of you who have bought into the adage of using it to fight your way to the rifle you are already in to deep for comfort. A few shots with the handgun should end the fight. If you still need to get to a rifle you better have a posse coming to help you soon.
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Old January 31, 2013, 01:00 PM   #24
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Much agreed Old Grump. When comparing handguns to rifles there are numbers on paper, there are ballistic test and then there is just plain getting a job done.
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Old February 1, 2013, 05:24 PM   #25
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I recently stumbled across this video about gunshot wounds. Not overly descriptive, and gets a bit more into the medical aspect than most people need, but I found it interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXwPtP-KDNk
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Last edited by The Great Mahoo; February 1, 2013 at 05:32 PM.
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