CCW Considerations

This is a discussion on CCW Considerations within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I just read a thread on here about the use of hand loaded ammunition for self-defense. I was going to post to that thread but ...

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Thread: CCW Considerations

  1. #1
    New Member Array ughlee's Avatar
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    CCW Considerations

    I just read a thread on here about the use of hand loaded ammunition for self-defense. I was going to post to that thread but this gets a little off topic and I didn't want to get flamed because my first post here was in the wrong thread.

    I get the point and have to admit it makes sense, but if the primary reason for not using hand loads is to avoid the appearance of looking like a gun nut out for a fight who wanted to the inflict the greatest amount of damage possible to some extent wouldn't that same argument extend to caliber choice. Several people advised using the same ammo that the local police department uses, so the question of ammo choice could be countered with "It's what the local authorities use" but it seems like no one has an issue recommending large calibers noted for their stopping power.

    As I was reading this and considering the problems that could ever arise if I was ever forced to shoot someone and was carrying hand loads I started wondering if carrying my Model 58 S&W might be a bad idea. So I did a google search on self-defense and caliber choice (I initially found this thread by googling "Reloading for self-defense") and I couldn't find anywhere that negative statements about large or exotic calibers were made similar to the ones about the potential liability of hand loads. Is caliber choice not the type of issue ammo choice is?

    Are there any other considerations we should be thinking about? One thing that springs to mind is custom grips. I don't think I would want to go before a grand jury or to trial after having used a weapon that had the punisher skull on it or some witty phrase about "killing 'em all and letting God sort 'em out,". The Zimmerman trial was bad enough as it was, could you imagine if he'd had custom grips with skulls on them on his pistol?

    So if I'm going to carry T-Shirts with clever sayings are obviously out. What are some other things that should be considered so if you ever are forced to defend yourself you don't immediately bring any additional level of scrutiny to your actions?

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    VIP Member Array Badey's Avatar
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    Powerful calibers can be portrayed by the prosecution as you wanting to kill the bad guy. Google the Harold Fish case. He used a 10mm in a defensive shooting. He spent several years in jail, and half a million dollars on his defense, and was eventually acquitted.

    Carry what you want, and feel comfortable with, but some experts (Massad Ayoob, for example) sat that it does help if you can say, "I use the (insert caliber), just like my local police department."
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    VIP Member Array Ghost1958's Avatar
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    Considering my state police and locals seem to use the same thing at any given time the last being 40 and before that 357 magnum I can live with that LOL.
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    Take the mindset of "when do I have to shoot" not "when can I shoot". Educate yourself with the readings of Massad Ayoob and other respected instructors that are used as expert testimony in self defense shooting cases. Spend more time becoming proficient with your sidearm and less time thinking of trivial issue like these.

    A DA can bring up any "issues" they want. If you have prepared and trained for the moment you will come out fine in a self defense shooting. Don't over think what a DA may do. Think hard about the LAW and how your RIGHT to self defense play into it.
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    Member Array buckeyebersa's Avatar
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    I'm not an attorney. One hears different things from different people about what is and is not a liability in court. I am not concerned about knowledgeable juries that can see expert testimony in its proper light. I am scared to death of juries composed of people like my mother-in-law, who is convinced that hollow point ammunition was created to kill police officers.

    All that said, I carry factory ammo only, 9MM or .380, and I will add custom grips and night sights to any gun I own. I won't add anything that might lend itself to me being considered a "gun nut" like a skull head grip or zombie green holster. I do not adjust factory triggers. I would carry a .357, .38, .40, or .45 if I thought any of those was a better choice for me for carry relative to accuracy or stopping ability. I have no concern about those calibers coming back to get me in court. All of these decisions represent my best understanding of what will minimize my legal risk, others will have varying opinions.

    One last thought: I think the whole topic is slightly overblown. A case is more likely to turn on factors other than the color of my holster or the style of my grip. It is easy, however, to avoid whatever minimal risk might be associated with those choices, so that is what I do.
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    I have followed the advice of Massad Ayoob and Rob Pincus and others for a long time. I try to use the same ammo that the local police or Sheriffs department do or something very close to it. If I had to shoot, I can always point to them and say I was using the same ammo that the police in my area do so obviously I wasn't trying to use anything more powerful or malicious. Sadly, civil liability is something we have to take into account.
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    I think you'd at least want there to be an argument that the caliber chosen is typically used for defense against people. I'm not sure what to make of .41 Magnum in this regard, but it's not like it's grossly overpowered for defensive use, and I believe it has seen selective use by law enforcement somewhere, as has .44 Magnum.

    Other considerations come into it, too. For example, if someone carries a .454 Casull in a shoulder holster every day, it's likely going to be an issue with the DA. But, if someone hunts with .454 and that's the only handgun he has when the BG breaks in to his house, it's a different story.

    I guess my feeling on it is that, it's best to do what's typical, and if you do something that's not typical (ammo, action, whatever), then make sure you have a good rationale for it that you COULD use in court. That's where skulls and zombies and such become a problem. If one goes out of his way to put Hot Topic styling on his handgun, it's odd, it's noticeable , and there's no good reason to do it from the standpoint of effective defense. If you imagine a typical soccer mom who might be on the jury, it can perhaps be explained to her why the defendant loaded his own ammo or chose a niche but fairly-common caliber; but good luck trying to make her understand why there's a pile of skulls engraved on the grip.
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckeyebersa View Post
    I'm not an attorney. One hears different things from different people about what is and is not a liability in court. I am not concerned about knowledgeable juries that can see expert testimony in its proper light. I am scared to death of juries composed of people like my mother-in-law, who is convinced that hollow point ammunition was created to kill police officers.

    All that said, I carry factory ammo only, 9MM or .380, and I will add custom grips and night sights to any gun I own. I won't add anything that might lend itself to me being considered a "gun nut" like a skull head grip or zombie green holster. I do not adjust factory triggers. I would carry a .357, .38, .40, or .45 if I thought any of those was a better choice for me for carry relative to accuracy or stopping ability. I have no concern about those calibers coming back to get me in court. All of these decisions represent my best understanding of what will minimize my legal risk, others will have varying opinions.

    One last thought: I think the whole topic is slightly overblown. A case is more likely to turn on factors other than the color of my holster or the style of my grip. It is easy, however, to avoid whatever minimal risk might be associated with those choices, so that is what I do.
    I can relate to your mil's media induced ignorance. I love the whole "cop killer bullets" meme. Guess that is why .22 seems to be getting so rare, keeping that evil bullet off the market. I cannot see any problem with carrying the .41 magnum. No high cap mags with a Model 57 or 58 to confuse the jury pool .
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    if someone got involved in a shooting, and that shooting is justified... The caliber and kind of gun wont matter. If a shooting is iffey then it may have some sway on decision making. If the shooting is deemed criminal then the gun, and caliber may be used to indicate the culpable mental state of the shooter.
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    9 mm felt too small for me (and ammo is hard to get now). 45 or anything larger seems like too large of a gun to carry and possibly too much power if you ever have to use it for self defense. 40 hollow points seem just right for me. Critical Defense ammo is too pricey to shoot enough to qualify for carry use.

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    Anything you have ever said or done can be used against you. Yes, using reloads can be used to paint you as a maniac that spends hours laboring over your custom hand loads intended to inflict the most damage possible. I'd say that's a much larger threat than going down the caliber road because I can pick any of the common calibers and point to a law enforcement agency that has used it or is using it now. The same cannot be said for your hand loaded ammunition.

    But honestly it is something that gets overblown. The fact that you're a member of this forum can be used to paint you as someone that spends hours reading and writing about shooting people. Taking training classes can be used to paint you as an individual that has paid large sums of money to learn to be a more effective murderer. A DA bent on making you out to be a bad guy is going to find a wealth of information on most of us. Funny thing, if you act within the law there's a pretty good chance the justice system will work in your favor. If you step over the line be prepared to pay the price... because you will.
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    No offense, but it seems you're overthinking the issue.


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    There's no way you can control or even anticipate all the ways a malicious prosecutor or ignorant jury could interpret your actions, so aside from some basic common sense I don't worry about it.
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    New Member Array ughlee's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses.

    Maxwell, the .41 is a bit of an oddball. I carried it professionally the first 21 years of my adult life, I'm comfortable with it and have always shot well with it but most of the loads today are hotter than I prefer. I was going to start carrying it again and was looking to either find or develop a load that approached the 900 FPS range that Bill Jordan and Elmer Keith envisioned for service use. I had heard the arguments about hand loads for self defense before, but my thinking was "how can they paint me with that brush if I am actually 'down-loading' the round?" When I started researching loads the first thing I stumbled on was a case cited by Massad Ayoob that had more to do with the inability (or unwillingness) to conduct forensic testing on hand loads than the intent behind developing custom loads. That caused me to reconsider my line of thought. I have been been carrying a mid-size Kimber in .45 and will probably continue to carry it primarily.

    Jules and others, I agree I was definitely over-thinking it but in my defense it was nearing midnight on a Sunday night and I had just read an article that slightly skewered my previous thinking by pointing out something I hadn't considered. So I began wondering what other things I might not have thought out. If Mr. Ayoob's intent was to provoke thought he succeeded.

    GetSmith, the only thing I can say is, wow. I ask a couple of questions about some, admittedly, random thoughts I was having, and in your opening two sentences you appear to make assumptions about both my mindset and proficiency. To quote that wise philosopher Samuel L. Jackson, ". . .don't make me an umption."

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    One thing to remember when it comes to caliber, LE use everything from 9mm up to .45 ACP, depending on the department. Not sure if any still use 10mm. To the best of my knowledge none use hand loads.

    As to custom grips. If I install custom grips on a gun, they are plain wood. I can see an over zealous prosecutor trying to use the grips in a case, but I think the bigger issue would be in a civil suit.
    IndianaSig likes this.
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