Selecting a good carry ammo should not be about just getting something that will be enough for some tasks, but something that will cover virtually all tasks necessary during a defensive armed engagement. There are several things to consider when looking for a good ammo, and I am going to go through these subjects one at a time. I will attempt to be brief and concise. I classify ammo selection as being a fine art that requires alot of thought and critical thinking, which unfortunately is not trending in the gun culture of today. I hope this article encourages the masses to reconsider just taking someones word and recommendation. Instead, I think it would be healthier for everyone for all of us to do our own research and decide for ourselves what is an appropriate ammunition.
What is the situation you are going to be using this ammo in? Are you hunting and need protection against predators that might turn the tables on you? Then you may want something that gives a good amount of hydrastatic shock since most animals have muscle tissue and organs that do not flex and absorb shock as well as people. However, if you are looking strictly to protect yourself from human predators who might have ill intent, you may want to got with an expanding bullet that can reliably penetrate deep, stay on course, and expand large enough to stop and create greater damage, but without compromising the ability to penetrate through fat, muscle, hard bones, etc.
Let's remember that hollow point ammunition relies on velocity to force it to expand when hitting a fluid based substance such as the human body. Also, that velocity will be crucial in forcing it to expand while passing through barriers like clothing and even things in pockets. However, you have to remember that we need to be careful about our velocities if we are trying to get the bullet to do what we want. Send that sucker too fast and it will expand too much and fall short of a vital hit. Send it too slow and it could fail to expand. There are plenty of sources out there that can give you a good idea on how certain bullets will perform at different velocities. Just remember that most every hollow point out there is designed for a 4" barrel. They rely on it for using all the benefits of the powder charge, and the hollow point is designed to open up when propelled to the velocities given by the powder charge when fired from a 4" barrel. Depending on the design of the bullet, a longer or shorter barrel can give you different and maybe better performance. But it is your responsibility to research and even test this, if possible.
Depending on what you are up against, you will probably need to have different types of ammunition. If you are thinking you might run into a bear, you will want something that will be capable of penetrating deep AND cause lots of hydrastatic shock on the way through. However, when dealing with the human variety, you might want something that both opens up but focuses on deep penetration in a human. There are plenty of studies about what it takes to cause incapacitating wounds as soon as possible. For the most part, this will require a specific list of characteristics such as penetration and moderate expansion, while also retaining a good amount of weight in order to handle any barriers after opening up, such as bones. Generally speaking, this is what is going to consume most of your time in research.
One of the most time consuming parts of research is gathering data. You can't just take it from the most favorable source that makes the product look good. Take all data available and search for more. But also, you need to know what it is that you are looking at and know how to interpret it in a manner that is accurate and realistic. Take gel tests for instance. Clear ballistics gel and the ordnance gel used by the FBI are very different in density and characteristics. Clear ballistics is much more flexible, which means it won't show a dramatic temporary cavity like the FBI porcine gel will. Also, it is about 75% of the density of FBI gel, which means rounds will penetrate it much easier, giving very deceiving numbers to those measuring. Therefore, we must realize that it is not realistic to use the FBI measurement standards of 12-18 inches when using clear ballistics gel. Know what you are looking at, and realize that there is more to data than just the raw numbers. Investigate and learn in order to read the information with clarity.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
So you have made your choice and now it is time to go out there and look at what it will cost, and if you can even find it in your area or online, if you are able to order online. Say for instance, you are looking for a premium round that is very popular like Speer Gold Dots. I can say that your best bet is to get Law Enforcement packs where they are sold in 50 round boxes. Not only are they going to cost less, but they are readily available online. Again, as long as you are fortunate enough to have the ability to order online, you can find incredible deals. However, if you are restricted to whatever you can find in stores, you may not want to spend a million bucks on that certain round. In that case, I would make a list of the preferred ammunition in order of best to worst performance. For my tastes, I like the Remington Green and White box generic JHPs. They are always available, and they cost about as much as practice ammo. Also, they come in 100 round boxes. This part of the selection process is one of the most crucial. Once you find a good affordable ammunition, you want to have it available, right?
TESTING RELIABILITY AND POINT OF IMPACT
Once you find the ammo you are satisfied with, can afford, and can find readily, it is time to get a few hundred rounds for testing. First thing that needs to be tested is the overall reliability, which is easily done by just running a few hundred rounds through the gun to ensure good cycling This is why finding a good affordable ammo is important. Next thing to do is an accuracy test. Now, most ammo is going to be accurate, but you just need to verify and see if you can zero the weapon to the ammo you intend to trust to save your skin in times of need. Especially when it comes to making fine precision shots, making sure you know where the round hits in relation to your sights is important. Don't underestimate this part.
Last part you will need to do is stock a bit of ammo in your safe. I would say that a couple hundred rounds should be sufficient. However, i think having a bit of a stockpile with monthly practice is quite alright as well. Periodically it is good to get yourself out to the range and qualify with your carry ammo to see how you perform. Just make sure you replenish you stock and gather some ammo monthly if you can.
I don't think that selecting a carry ammunition should be too much of a chore. I find the process fun and educational. I hate to see people just take something they hear and run with it. Don't fall for all the hype and believe things just because you heard someone say it. Confirm information for yourself and make your own decisions based on your own values and what REALLY works.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.