Self Defense ammo vs range ammo

Self Defense ammo vs range ammo

This is a discussion on Self Defense ammo vs range ammo within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I don't want to open too many cans of worms, but I have some questions about my practice. I basically learned all of my gun ...

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Thread: Self Defense ammo vs range ammo

  1. #1
    Member Array Moto4Fun's Avatar
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    Self Defense ammo vs range ammo

    I don't want to open too many cans of worms, but I have some questions about my practice. I basically learned all of my gun safety, etiquette and practices from my father. But he doesn't know everything, and collectively you guys offer decent opinions.

    I have .40 Federal JHP in my gun. The box I bought had 20 rounds so I have two full mags. I choose to keep one in the pipe, so I rack one in, then swap mags, so that my backup mag only has 9. The questions I have are: is there a common practice for doing this, should I be shooting this ammo and renewing it on occasion, and does the bullet/cartridge sustain any damage getting cycled in and out of the chamber? Should I just keep the same ammo in it that I shoot at the range to eliminate the above scenario? Should I practice with the "expensive stuff"? I have never shot any of the JHP through my gun, would it be good to run a couple boxes through?

    Thanks up front for the advice, and I apologize if this has been covered ad nausium.


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    You should shoot 'some' of the ammo you are going to carry in it for SD. Some of my guns just don't like some ammo..... you wouldn't want to find that out at the wrong time. My .02 cents run at least a box of 50 thru it.

    Once you are confident of that, shoot your 'practice' less expensive ammo at the range, and some SD ammo at times.

    Varying opinions on cycling the one in the chamber and what it does. I will put mine in a bag that I'll shoot at the range if it's been chambered about 3 times.

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    Member Array Chiller2's Avatar
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    Ok this is my amateur opinion you need to shoot at least a couple of boxes of your defense ammo through your weapon to make sure it functions with it it would probably be better if you can afford it to put a 100 to 200 rounds.There should be no issues but it is something you don't want to find out about an issue on the day you need it. After that I would stick with practice ammo for the majority of my practice but would probably replace my defense ammo every 6 months to a year and shoot the old ammo.

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    Member Array Moto4Fun's Avatar
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    The concern I have is the wear and tear to the defensive ammo that happens when I cycle it in and out of the gun. I must move the ammo in and out of the chamber at least once per day for legal transportation, dry fire practice, live fire practice, etc. Should I buy more magazines and keep my defensive ammo in them and have practice mags for loading shooting regularly?

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    Exclamation Yes, it can hurt your ammo (and you.)

    There is a condition called "bullet setback" that can occur when you cycle a cartridge into the chamber of your gun repeatedly. Basically what happens is that every time the round is chambered, it smacks the nose of the bullet into the feed ramp, which pushes the bullet back into the case a tiny bit.

    This shortens the overall length of the cartridge, and can compress the powder if the case was full to begin with. The shortened cartridge can cause problems with feeding and general mechanical function, and the compressed powder charge increases the pressure in the chamber when the gun is fired, which can cause problem ranging from bulged brass to a full kaboom, where some components of the gun give way and are damaged or you are injured.

    You can test for bullet setback by simply comparing a new cartridge with one that you have cycled through your gun several times. If the cartridge is shorter, don't do that any more. Make sure that you rotate your ammo, or make it a policy to re-chamber a round only once or twice before firing it at the range.

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    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    Because of a concern with set back, I have started to use a target round as my "in the barrel round." Every time I go to the range, I make sure to use this round up and replace it with a new one. I once rotated SD rounds, and would use the "in the barrel" SD round, but money became a bit tighter, so I changes. I still carry SD ammo in the mag, but the first, "in the barrel" round is target.

    I think it is important to note that I feel confident even my target .357 Sig round is an effectice SD round. I would also feel the same way if I had a .45 ACP, etc. However, something like a target .38 Spl round in a .38 +P / .357 Mag or a 9mm target round in place of a 9mm +P is a more drastic difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    Because of a concern with set back, I have started to use a target round as my "in the barrel round." Every time I go to the range, I make sure to use this round up and replace it with a new one. I once rotated SD rounds, and would use the "in the barrel" SD round, but money became a bit tighter, so I changes. I still carry SD ammo in the mag, but the first, "in the barrel" round is target.

    I think it is important to note that I feel confident even my target .357 Sig round is an effectice SD round. I would also feel the same way if I had a .45 ACP, etc. However, something like a target .38 Spl round in a .38 +P / .357 Mag or a 9mm target round in place of a 9mm +P is a more drastic difference.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moto4Fun View Post
    Should I practice with the "expensive stuff"? I have never shot any of the JHP through my gun, would it be good to run a couple boxes through?
    I'm of the opinion that you'll never really know the ultimate reliability of that rarely-used ammo unless you actually abuse your gun with hundreds of rounds of it in a specific regimen designed to evaluate the gun/ammo combination's reliability.

    After basic break-in, I generally embark on a fairly long and exhaustive search for the perfect ammo for that specific gun. Based on tolerances that might exist in my gun but no other, it's hard to simply and blindly rely upon what others think and assume that means my gun will operate just fine with that suggested ammo. In something I'm going to rely upon for my life, that's not good enough (for me).

    My CZ P-01 is a good example. Through the first several hundred rounds, I varied the ammo among a dozen brands and types. The beauty of that is that I quickly came to find a couple of ammo choices that worked very well. I then proceeded to run the shot count up to nearly 2000, mostly focusing on the selected ammo (aka, "the good stuff"). After that, the gunsmith took over with a trigger/action job. At that point, I had an excellent match: DoubleTap JHP +P 124gr 9mm, with the Speer Gold Dot bullet. Darned near flawless in my gun.

    The point is: I would not have known that, had I simply put a box or two through the gun and called it "good."
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    Member Array JimH58's Avatar
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    First of all I try out a variety of ammo to test which ones will work reliably in the weapons I have especially the auto-loaders. This is done for both range and SD ammo. I have a good mental list of those brands which work and I can go to depending on what is available. When I go to re-order I know which ones will work well and which ones I should avoid. I know my Bersa 380 hates Fiocci so I never buy the 380, but my 9mm M&P will eat it up.

    I keep at least 500 rounds of each caliber on hand and rotate out the older ammo each time I go to the range including some of the older SD ammo. When I get home and the weapons have been cleaned the magazines are reloaded with newer ammo. I generally try to do the same thing with revolver ammo.
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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    I agree with others that you should shoot at least 50 rounds of SD ammo through a gun before you trust your life to that gun/ammo combination. One thing I'd like to emphasize is that this should be 50 problem free rounds. If you get even one jam out of those rounds you should either switch to a different SD ammo or shoot a couple hundred rounds of the ammo through it to prove it was a fluke.

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    I would shoot as much of your SD ammo as you can afford, atleast one box.

    Try to avoid rechambering your SD rounds

    Buying more mags is always good you can never have to many

    I try to replace my carry ammo every 6 months to a year.
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    Member Array Moto4Fun's Avatar
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    Can you "gently" place a round into the chamber with out racking it in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moto4Fun View Post
    Can you "gently" place a round into the chamber with out racking it in?
    I would advise against this, because you might not get it seated frimly and it would not fire when your needed it too.

    You can cycle rounds through you mags.....

    Mark the first round with a sharpie, chamber it, whenit is un chambered place it is the bottom of your spare mag and place one round from your spare mag into your carry mag. Repeat until your spare mag is full and becomes your carry mag. Once your rechamer all rounds 3 times don't chamber them again
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    I also will use my "chamber" round as my first target round when at the range. I have never thought about bullet "set back", but it makes sense. I checked my chambered round against another, with calipers, and the difference is .0001 taller on the chambered round. Interesting. Not enough of a difference to matter IMO. I just do it because that way I cycle through my ammo regularly, nothing in the gun more than about 2 months old.

    As far as what to use for SD, I like to shoot at least 100 problem free rounds through before I'll use it for carry. I actually haven't found a brand or type that my gun won't eat, I think that is a benefit of owning a very high quality firearm...SigSauer
    Last edited by sigmanluke; March 11th, 2009 at 01:42 PM. Reason: more info
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    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    Because of a concern with set back, I have started to use a target round as my "in the barrel round."
    I agree with others that you should shoot at least 50 rounds of SD ammo through a gun before you trust your life to that gun/ammo combination. One thing I'd like to emphasize is that this should be 50 problem free rounds. If you get even one jam out of those rounds you should either switch to a different SD ammo or shoot a couple hundred rounds of the ammo through it to prove it was a fluke.
    Please pay attention there is a lot of wisdom posted

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