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Old July 13, 2020, 11:52 AM   #1
ghbucky
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How do you choose your SD ammo?

I don't want this to devolve into an argument over which caliber or bullet is 'THE BEST!!!!1111'

What I am interested in is HOW do you make a decision on what SD you buy?

FBI research? What the military or law enforcement uses? Whatever is on sale? Other people's research or recommendations?
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Old July 13, 2020, 01:31 PM   #2
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Over half a century of hunting
Four decades in law enforcement

Result:
Practice
Placement
Penetration

The above trumps caliber
The above trumps projectile
The above trumps expansion
The above trumps jello “tests”

(assuming we’re talking common service calibers)
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Old July 13, 2020, 01:41 PM   #3
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Right NOW, it is whatever is available and grab it while you can.
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Old July 13, 2020, 02:02 PM   #4
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^^ this ^^

Seriously, I have always enjoyed this site for SD ammo testing and discussion. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't seen it yet...

https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/sel...tests/#updates
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Old July 13, 2020, 02:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghbucky View Post
I don't want this to devolve into an argument over which caliber or bullet is 'THE BEST!!!!1111'

What I am interested in is HOW do you make a decision on what SD you buy?

FBI research? What the military or law enforcement uses? Whatever is on sale? Other people's research or recommendations?

Yes. And then shooting at least a few boxes to make sure my gun likes it. It’s expensive to shoot sd ammo at the range. But it’s as they say, “cheaper than dirt”.
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Old July 13, 2020, 03:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jmhyer View Post
^^ this ^^



Seriously, I have always enjoyed this site for SD ammo testing and discussion. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't seen it yet...



https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/sel...tests/#updates
I also researched some of the testing on Lucky Gunner and a few other sites and after trying out a few other brands I settled on Federal HST 9mm and Gold Dot (short barrel) and/or Remington Golden Sabers for my .38 snub.

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Old July 13, 2020, 04:25 PM   #7
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TBM: that's all very well, and I don't need 30 years of experience to know those things are true, but you didn't answer my question.

FITASC: yeah, right now there aren't many options. I'm more asking in general. I guess I should have stated that.

Thanks for the LuckGunner link. Lots of interesting info.
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Old July 13, 2020, 05:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ghbucky View Post
TBM: that's all very well, and I don't need 30 years of experience to know those things are true, but you didn't answer my question
On the contrary, I did answer —> my own experience.

I didn’t think the “3 P’s” needed an explanation but I’ll elaborate...
-Whichever ammunition you can practice with the most
-That you can repeatedly place properly under stress
-And consistently penetrates a large adult male torso

I’ll be happy to expound if you like
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Old July 13, 2020, 06:11 PM   #9
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I carry a 380 and I wasn't comfortable carrying ball ammo, so I watched and read a bunch of testing and comparisons of various 380 ACP rounds and settled on Fiocci XTP. The Lucky Gunner link is a good one.
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Old July 13, 2020, 06:29 PM   #10
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I selected the most popular SD caliber across the board and bought the type of pistol that I felt like I was most proficient with. It ended up being the Browning HiPower 9mm. It came down to the Smith 3904 and the Browning. The Browning held more rounds and felt better in the hand. My selection process was not much deeper than that. The G23 took its place sometime in the early 90s and then by 2000, I returned once again to the Browning. Now in 2020 I am back to Glock ( G43) in the summer and the Browning in the Winter. Thats about it.
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Old July 13, 2020, 06:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
-And consistently penetrates a large adult male torso
Ahh... now there is where I am interested. How do you know which ammo will do that?

FireForged: I'm more interested in how you choose the ammo to load in your SD gun.

=====

And to expand the subject a bit: I see all these videos of what bullets do in gel. Does that really mean anything in the real world? Have there been any studies about whether ballistic gel tests actually match up to autopsy after SD shootings?
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Old July 13, 2020, 07:16 PM   #12
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I use Speer Gold Dot or Federal HST generally. I have generally avoided Hornady simply because pistols I used in the past had issues with the OAL of some of their cartridges, and I can find Speer and Federal in bulk for less money generally (obviously the current ammo situation can change that).

There’s something that’s important to understand about ballistics gel, imo. The point of ballistics gel is to provide a consistent medium for comparison. Many have argued that animal carcasses, meat shanks, etc are more relevant than ballistics gel. The problem is depending on where a bullet hits in that kind of medium the level of resistance faced by that bullet can vary notably, at least enough to impact the results if comparison is your goal. Ballistics gel remedies that.

Ballistics gel is not an exact analog to a human body. That said, not every point in the human body is encased by bone, bones vary in their thickness, and even the toughness of tissues in the human body vary. Ballistics gel takes all of those varying levels of resistance and comes up with what could be considered an average. It’s denser than the human body is in certain areas, less dense than others.


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Old July 13, 2020, 08:49 PM   #13
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Paul Harrell (sp?) Has at least a few videos where he tests various rounds through multiple layers of fabric and cuts of meat or bags of fruit. These tests aren't quite as scientific as the ballistic gel, but they'll give you an idea of what happens when a bullet has to pass through heavy clothing and perhaps meat and bone.
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Old July 13, 2020, 11:30 PM   #14
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I choose quality expanding ammunition that is accurate, reliable in my gun and made by a reputable manufacturer.
Quote:
How do you know which ammo will do that?
It's worth noting that large and well-funded organizations that rely on ballistic gel penetration figures for ammunition selection have access to information on a LOT of real-world shooting data. If the ballistic gel figures didn't relate to real-world performance, you can bet that changes would be made until they found something that did provide useful information. But we haven't seen any such changes.

https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/w...ics-gel-works/
"...we have learned that what works in this gelatin and looks good in the gelatin ends up being correlated and proven out on the street. ... So we we have a connection. What works in the gelatin here ends up working on the street there. I guess one really cannot emphasize enough that the gelatin is a very good model. "
https://www.policeone.com/police-pro...HMq6WMU8EUdlW/
"But properly prepared and calibrated 10% ordnance gelatin does produce penetration, retained weight, and expansion/fragmentation results that correlate very strongly with wounds observed in actual bodies."
https://www.customcollagen.com/balli...-test-results/
"Ballistic gel mimics certain properties of flesh more closely than any other substance. In fact, ballistic gel from Custom Collagen is so finely tuned to imitate the density of human organs that it’s even used by hospitals and universities to calibrate ultrasound equipment."
It certainly doesn't tell the whole story, but it provides results that are good enough that I would say worrying about the discrepancies isn't really worthwhile.
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Old July 14, 2020, 02:53 AM   #15
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I do not believe in buying self defense ammo. I use the same ammo that I practice with as this has proven to be reliable and breeds familiarity. For me the fact that I carry a revolver in .357 why bother paying for expensive ammo for 20 rounds whereas my semi wadcutters will do the job regardless if it is practice or self defense.
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Old July 14, 2020, 04:59 AM   #16
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Yes, there has been quite a bit of study comparing different tissue simulants to real world shootings. Properly prepared, calibrated, 10% ordnance gel is still currently the gold standard in that regard, although it is kind of a pain compared to some of the alternatives.

It doesn’t match in the sense that 12” of gel penetration equals 12” of penetration in a real world shooting. It does match in the sense that bullets with 12-18” of gel penetration do well in real world shootings of human-sized, bipedal mammals.
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Old July 14, 2020, 07:33 AM   #17
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Alex, what are the (my) three “Pees"?

Placement – one I can shoot well
Performance – one that functions well in my CCW
Price – one that is affordable, so I can obtain more

My SD goal is to stop the BG, and there are many basic HPs that meet my criteria. Currently, I use SIG 124gr V-Crown.
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Old July 14, 2020, 07:45 AM   #18
ghbucky
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Thanks, JohnKSa for this link:
https://www.policeone.com/police-pro...HMq6WMU8EUdlW/

The final paragraph is very informative:
Quote:
The reason this distinction is important is that, when amateur testers point to disruption in a block as proof that ammunition is effective, they are flatly incorrect. Disruption seen in gel is a result of cutting or tearing and it does not correlate well with cutting or tearing that happens to real tissue from the same ammunition. That disruption might look cool, but it is not representative of anything that occurs in tissue. So when you see those videos reviewing the next gimmicky death blaster screw driver ammo, understand that the only results that the gel can give you that are actually relevant are penetration, expansion/fragmentation, and retained weight. If they make the claim that the disruption in the gel equates to “wounding” “permanent cavity” or anything similar, you may safely conclude that they really don’t know what they’re talking about. Their measurements may be accurate, but their opinion about the effectiveness of the ammo might not be.
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Old July 14, 2020, 10:17 AM   #19
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How do I choose? I base my choices on reliable testing from sites such as LuckyGunner. I carry a commander-sized 1911 in .45 acp and practice with it regularly. When I practice, I use a variety of ammo, but mainly 230 gr ball ammo. My SD ammo has similar velocity and recoil characteristics as my practice ammo, and I run enough of it through my pistol to ensure that it functions well and I am accurate with it. My 3 primary choices, based on testing results, are Winchester PDX1, Hornady Critical Defense (not critical duty), and Winchester White Box 230 gr JHP, all of which have consistent, reliable penetration, expansion, and weight retention.

One important thing to remember is what has been stressed before, whatever you choose, make sure that you are confidently accurate with it. If you are not accurate with your defensive rounds at the range, when you are stressed in a defensive situation, you will be even less accurate with it, and if you can't hit your target, then penetration, expansion, and weight retention are largely irrelevant.
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Old July 14, 2020, 10:39 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghbucky View Post
Thanks, JohnKSa for this link:
https://www.policeone.com/police-pro...HMq6WMU8EUdlW/

The final paragraph is very informative:
That is essentially correct
In all my years I have NEVER seen the damage that appears in jello, appear in human or animal
Such “tests” have essentially become marketing tools to sell $1.00+ per round ammunition in fancy boxes
And it works wonderfully at doing so
Expansion itself has become a marketing gimmick as it makes no significant, practical difference in the real world when compared to the 3P’s

Expansion should be looked at ONLY in the light in which it was originally applied, to reduce over penetration
When originally conceived it was under the guise of “safety”, to slow the projectile before exiting
Along the way the gun rags, the internet, and manufacturers have convinced people that it’s the “end all be all”

It isn’t... far from it

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again
Get out and do some long term handgun hunting if you REALLY want to know what matters
For most it’s the only practical way to see what projectiles do in the real world with ones own eyes
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Old July 14, 2020, 11:38 AM   #21
ghbucky
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Quote:
Such “tests” have essentially become marketing tools to sell $1.00+ per round ammunition in fancy boxes
I came to the conclusion that this is what is happening last night. If all these people on youtube and doing their own 'scientific' tests is what is driving ammunition purchases, then ammo manufacturers are naturally going to oblige and build ammo that looks good in slow motion gel tests.
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Old July 14, 2020, 12:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
TBM: that's all very well, and I don't need 30 years of experience to know those things are true, but you didn't answer my question.

FITASC: yeah, right now there aren't many options. I'm more asking in general. I guess I should have stated that.

Thanks for the LuckGunner link. Lots of interesting info.
The HOW was by trying several different brands until I found one I felt comfortable with - that means it performed flawlessly in ANY of the 9mms (which is what I use) that I am likely to employ in a SD/HD scenario. After that was accuracy. (the WHY) For ME, in MY guns, that meant Speer Lawman 124 TMJ for practice and Speer Gold Dot 124 JHP for carry/nightstand. Running those GD over a chrono, I got an extreme spread of 6 - VERY consistent and consistent generally translates into good accuracy.
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Old July 14, 2020, 01:09 PM   #23
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Obviously it (the ammo) has to function reliably.
I want at least 12'' penetration and consistent expansion in heavy clothed gel, testing linked in post #4.
Federal also provides test data:
https://le.vistaoutdoor.com/wound_ba...omparison.aspx

For me:
9mm 124/147 HST +P
40 S&W 180 HST, Gold Dot, 165 Ranger Bonded
45 acp 230 HST, Ranger T

I'm not betting my life on less than 9mm, Glock 19 is my minimum carry.
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Old July 14, 2020, 02:04 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by CDW4ME View Post
Obviously it (the ammo) has to function reliably.
I want at least 12'' penetration and consistent expansion in heavy clothed gel, testing linked in post #4.
Federal also provides test data:
https://le.vistaoutdoor.com/wound_ba...omparison.aspx

For me:
9mm 124/147 HST +P
40 S&W 180 HST, Gold Dot, 165 Ranger Bonded
45 acp 230 HST, Ranger T

I'm not betting my life on less than 9mm, Glock 19 is my minimum carry.
In the real world... 12” isn’t enough
After poorly placed shots, the most common “failure“ I’ve noted over the decades...
Poor penetration

In fact I’ve come across countless examples over the decades where expansion could have likely saved the person/animal
There is actually one high profile example that anyone can look into themselves
Christopher Wallace

All four shots pierced the vehicle door (penetration)
Three hit non-vital areas (placement)
But one of the four FMJs struck him in the hip
It traveled diagonally from right hip to left shoulder, his entire torso
Doubtful an expanding projectile would have pierced the door and made it through his heart and lung
I’ve personally run into multiple similar examples over the decades
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Old July 14, 2020, 04:59 PM   #25
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easy:


is it a JHP? [yes].. CHECK
is it reliable in my gun? [yes].. CHECK

I prefer something other than 115 gr its not a deal breaker.



I believe in the science of ballistics but to be honest, it aint what I consider a gunfight to hinge upon. I am not a flavor of the month kind of guy or someone who suckers for flashy marketing. I just want the projectile to put holes in stuff and I want it to stay where I put it.
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