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Post subject: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:58 am
Being relatively new to owning a handgun, I have a couple of questions regarding self defense ammo, (or hollow point), for smaller handguns. My handgun is a Citadel 1911 .45 ACP Officer Compact, with a 3 1/2 inch barrel. Based on what I've been told by a several people at various gun shops, I shouldn't use .45 ACP+P ammo in my gun due to the gun's size. And on Midway USA's site, some of the +P ammo has the message "For large frame handguns" written in the specs/details.

So my questions are:

1. Is using "reduced recoil" ammo a viable option for self defense?

2. Is there a good self defense ammo that isn't reduced recoil, or +P, but rather in the middle of the two extremes?

(I've read quite a bit on the matter, but became somewhat overwhelmed by all the info - which at times, can seem contradictive. And at other times the info seems to be a "Ford vs. Chevy" type of personal preference argument.)

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:46 pm
I unfortunately do not have the expertise with that particular load/weapon to offer the specific advice that you're seeking. Nevertheless, I'd like to put in my two-cents' worth.....

The first and by far most important consideration is that your chosen ammunition will properly function your weapon.

The most amazing terminal ballistics is still next to useless of that bullet does not exit the muzzle, or if your autopistol turns to a single-shot wonder after the preceding bullet finds its way downrange.

It's fun to play the terminal ballistics game as an academic "bench-race." :) But if that bullet can't depart the muzzle and/or if the cartridge does not cycle your weapon properly, that's a very, very real-world non-starter.

-Allen
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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:27 pm
I generally avoid +P ammo if there is a standard pressure version that will do the job - and there almost always is. As TSiWRX said, first and foremost it has to function 100% reliably in your gun, and you have to be able to shoot it well. To do that, you really need to run a bunch of it through your gun and every magazine you plan to use for carry. An *absolute minimum* of two magazines worth through each mag without any ammo-caused malfunctions. Preferably, much more, say on the order of a couple hundred flawless rounds. Yes, it gets expensive - but your life is worth it, right?

As to the ammo itself, in a .45 ACP with a shorter barrel, I like Federal HST 230 grain standard pressure. You will probably have to order it online, I've never seen it in the stores. But, BONUS! It comes in 50 round boxes for about $0.50 per round, much less expensive per round than the 20 round boxes you usually see in stores.

If you can't find that (or it doesn't run reliably in your gun) I'd look at Speer Gold Dot 230 grain standard pressure, either their normal loading or their short barrel loading. Either one seems to perform well in 3 1/2" barrels.

Finally, Winchester Ranger T 230 grain (again, standard pressure) if neither of those work well. (But, I'll bet one of them will).

This is of course my own personal preference, others may well disagree and offer their own perspective.

Christian, Husband, Father
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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 5:13 pm
Thank you TSiWRX and JustaShooter for your suggestions. So far, my gun hasn't had any problems cycling ammo, but I hadn't considered testing it specifically for cycling self defense ammo. That makes perfect sense, and I agree that it will be worth the cost to know for certain. It's good to know there is reasonably priced, self defense ammo, between reduced recoil and +P. And I appreciate the list of ammo to try out.

For what it's worth, I'll be trying some of the suggested ammo this week, and will let you know how it goes. Thanks again!

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:16 pm
To complement what has been said already, you might try some lighter .45 ACP loads also: Federal Classic 185 gr. JHP (my favorite), Remington's 185 gr. JHP, Speer's 200 gr. JHP (Speer Lawman 200 gr. FMJ is the training analogue), and at least a half dozen more. These are not +P loads and in this caliber +P is not necessary. Good luck.

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves". - Edward R. Murrow
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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:38 pm
Tstone:

I see the guys have gotten you started....

Personally, I don't see any advantage to +P (don't even think about +P+ loads) except for bragging rights. Just about any old JHP should do what you need. The only real advantage to the hotter loads may come when you're dealing with heavy winter clothing. I'm not sure it's worth it. The little guns are just so hard to handle with hotter loads.

My EDC is a 3.5" or 4" barreled 1911. I just ask my local gun pusher for a JHP. On the range, it's 230gr lead ball. Our club won't permit jacketed rounds anyway. I run the same stuff in my 5' 1911's, too. Same JHP's if I carry one of those, but that's rare.

DO make sure the stuff works in your gun. At least a couple magazines full out of every magazine you're likely to carry, in every gun you're likely to carry.

'Round the house, it's an M&P40C or a Shield 40. Same story.... The Shield really doesn't like hot 40's, although they work fine. It's me :D.... The 40C works well with anything, and a 40FS is the same. My only reason for carrying these is the lack of need for a barrel hoop belt and serious holster. They're light enough for about any half-decent rig. The Shield lives in a DeSantis "pocket" holster. I'm big enough to carry (and conceal) any of those .45's, too, but then I have to use a real holster and.... :D

Some years back, one of the magazines ("Gun Tests", I think) did a review of a gun that was supposed to be a very exact clone of the M1911A1. It was fine with about any ammo they threw at it, except "GI Ball".... That's why you need to test this stuff :D.... The Browning design is really supposed to work with a specific ball and load, and manufacturers and tinkerers have been spending about the last Century diddling that. Some of the new stuff probably would have given Browning nightmares....

Regards,

Stu

(Why write a quick note when you can write a novel?)

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:41 am
Thank you morbius and SMMAssociates for your suggestions as well. Lots of good info to think about, and experiment with.

SMMAssociates, you mentioned heavy winter clothing as a factor. I've heard, and read, how that can effect the expansion of some HP rounds. I've also read some +P ammo can over-penetrate, even with heavy winter clothing. I even read an article, in the recent edition of Concealed Carry Magazine, which looks at how different barrel lengths can effect the performance of various HP ammo. Info overload!

Thanks again for all of your suggestions. I'll let you know how the experiment goes.

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:32 pm
^ Indeed, terminal performance can drive one nutty. :)

I'm a research scientist - basic science - by trade and training. So you can imagine how much data appeals to me. There's so much of it, it's hard to make heads or tails without another context.

Towards that end, my background is biological/medical, so where it comes to terminal performance, I'm strongly biased towards the physiologic stop side of the equation: I believe in the need to physically disrupt the critical CNS structures or to induce hypovolemic shock, in order to stop the threat.

With that in-mind, my go-to has thus always been DocGKR's data:

https://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Self_ ... _Ammo_FAQ/

Within the criteria of the testing above, there becomes no best/better: it's only pass/fail. Of those cartridges that pass the testing, the resultant list is not generated in terms of performance or personal preference, but rather, is just a list.

It is also this "list format" which illustrates the relative importance of vetting the ammo you select for function in your specific and unique firearm, rather than to judge that ammo by its supposed quantified performance. That we must remember that terminal performance is a byproduct of the projectile actually reaching the intended target.

So the question is less whether a particular round does more/less damage. It's a handgun round, it's gonna suck: if I knew I'd be getting into a gunfight that day, I'd have brought a long-gun. :lol:

And with that, we're back to the fact that the bullet must exit the muzzle and the cartridge must function your autoloading pistol correctly.

And we're back to the fact that you need to be able to shoot that load with the speed and accuracy that you deem necessary.

To verify both is actually easier than one would think.

For the former, simply make sure that your weapon will work well with said cartridge. This type of testing may be expensive, but realistically, as long as your daily concealed-carry weapon can successfully discharge its resident magazine and the spare magazine(s) that you carry on your body, that's really all that's necessary, no?

With the latter, simply shoot to a known metric that both has restraints of time and forces a quantifiable score. Even something as simple as the Vickers-Hackathorn "The Test" ( aka 10/10/10 -
http://soldiersystems.net/2012/11/10/gu ... vickers-5/ and http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/1 ... ting-drill ), shot in its simplest format, will force you to perform towards the most fundamental of the BSA template.

If you score worse, given the same time (or score the same, but spend longer doing it), then is the juice worth the squeeze?

---

With respect to "overpenetration," my view of it is rather simplistic.

That any round designed to carve a hole is going to carve a hole, period. That there is no magic bullet that's just going to kill the bad guy but will magically leave any innocent unharmed, should such an individual find his/her way in the path.

In the open, watch the foreground and background. Rule 4. Understand how your movement as well as that of the threat(s) can influence angles and its interplay with the backdrop (i.e. swinging that close-up shot because the threat suddenly took a side-step, how much distance have you swept through via that arc, 20 ft. or 20 yards downrange?).

For home-defense, where lanes-of-fire can be worked out prior to the event, what are your no-shoot zones? can furniture be rearranged to offer a more solid backstop? etc.

So, again, this ties back to our performance behind the gun as shooters. The better control we have over the gun, the better we can shoot, the less likely that overpenetration or other backdrop/foreground considerations will be an issue.

-Allen
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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:58 am
At the risk of coming off like a broken record, thank you again for the info TSiWRX. Or rather, for the insightful analysis - which is well written! I appreciate all of you taking the time to help me out, and steering me in the direction of a practical, sensible perspective, rather than getting bogged down by marketing terminology and manufacturers claims. Tomorrow I'll be trying two different JHP rounds - Federal 165 grain Hydra-Shok JHP & Winchester 230 grain JHP - to find out how they cycle through the Citadel.

Joining this forum has already proven to be very useful. Hopefully I can make some useful contributions to the forum in the near future as well.

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:58 am
Yesterday at the range, I fired 60 rounds of the Federal 165 grain Hydra-Shok JHP, and 100 rounds of the Winchester 230 grain JHP, and not a single round of either brand had a problem cycling through the gun. (The results were not a complete surprise, in that, over 700 target rounds have been fired through the Citadel with only one hang-up. And since it was only the one time, I don't know what caused it.) Of the two different rounds, I was able to keep a tighter grouping with the Hydra-Shok.

I'll try out a few more brands in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I'm going to use the Federal Hydra-Shok for carrying. Thanks again for all the insight and suggestions.

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:21 pm
That's how I chose my ammo. Bought several different brands and went to the range. I carry the one which shot best from that particular firearm. Federal HydraShok in one and Hornady Critical Defense in another.
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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:16 pm
One other thing (as if enough hasn't been said already): get into the habit of keeping your gun clean, and that means after every trip to the range. There's a literal smorgasbord of cleaning materials out there. I still like Hoppes #9 (old tech) but find the one(s) you like and stick with them. So do yourself and your ammo a favor: keep the gun clean.

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Post subject: Re: Self defense ammo for smaller handguns
Post Posted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:11 pm
Dinstar - Hornady Critical Defense is an ammo I'll be trying out next week. And trying out ammo at the range means spending time at the range. Not exactly a chore is it? That'll make any day, a better day.

morbius - Thank you for the suggestion. I made cleaning the gun a part of my shooting range routine. Cleaning the gun is enjoyable. Get home from the range, make a cup of coffee, turn on some music from Pandora, and clean the gun. It may sound strange, but it's downright relaxing.

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