I get asked what I carry on a regular basis. I try to deflect the question or ask it back by getting to know their needs.
The Good, the Bad and the Bullet
At some point the conversation will evolve to defensive ammunition. For self defense, whether in the home or out in public you will need to consider some type of high performance round designed to fit your needs. When we define our needs, we narrow the field of options. More importantly, you identify what is important. What you should focus on, to the point it is a “go/no go”. If it doesn’t meet certain performance objectives you look for better alternatives despite all the hype or “celebrity” endorsements.
The Return of the 9mm
We have seen the ammunition world evolve big time over the last couple of years. First, when the FBI announced they were going back to the 9mm service wide. It didn’t take long for just about everyone else to follow suit. There are still hold outs here and there, but they will come around with time. Of the current selection of high performance defensive rounds; which ones best fulfill the average citizen. Most defensive ammunition is designed for law enforcement who’s mission or needs might differ. The possibility of penetrating intermediate barriers is very unlikely so do you need a round that excels in this capacity, but gives up ground on other fronts.
Possible, but not Probable
For the average citizen defending his person, loved ones or home it may be possible, but not probable they will have to shoot through an intermediate barrier such as a car door, interior wall or safety glass. One thing to remember is you will have to justify your actions for using deadly force. While you might have chosen ammunition that performs well here, was it the best choice. I am far more likely to recommend looking for a defensive round that reliably goes bang every time you pull the trigger and penetrates to a minimum depth of 12 inches. The often overlooked piece to this puzzle is our ability to hit the target with the defensive round.
Trust, but Verify
While you might have selected the most awesome defensive round currently available what if you fail to hit the target. Will it really matter how cool the box looks or a clever marketing slogan. Probably not. Yes, you will have to train and train hard to have reliable skills for deadly force encounters. This includes knowing the performance of your defensive ammunition selection. I encourage you to buy enough of your intended selection so you can test it yourself. Maybe not elaborate gelatin testing, but you can test for reliability and functionality through your chosen defensive handgun. If it doesn’t feed reliability or function in your handgun, you need to look hard at your choice.
What’s Point of Impact
Once you start shooting the defensive rounds you may notice something different. Typically they will have more felt recoil due to the rounds be loaded for higher velocities; which should equate to improved terminal performance. You may also notice less flash since most use powder with flash retardant properties. The most interesting attribute you may notice is a difference in accuracy. While most defensive rounds are built to be more accurate they are still not match grade. The biggest difference is the shift from point of aim/point of impact between your training round. It is not often you see these two sync up so the best solution is to shoot them enough you understand the difference so if you need to take a high percentage shot you know precisely where to aim.
Nothing is free, you cannot expect much from your gear if you don’t know the gear’s limits. Take the time and make the investment to learn not just about the performance, but where the performance ends.