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How much of a difference is there?

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by outd00rs, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. outd00rs


    May 21, 2010
    First off let me give you guys some context on my question so you can judge it accordingly. I just bought my first firearm about a month ago (Sig P226 9MM) and know very little about pretty much everything. I've been reading this forum for a while and all of the knowledgeable folks are great and pretty entertaining as well!

    Now to the question. Go easy... I'm a noob!

    I see lots of references to SD ammo vs range ammo. I understand that SD ammo is designed to inflict more damage and deliver greater stopping power as opposed to range ammo which is more for, well..... the range.

    I buy and shoot the Walmart Federal 9MM rounds since they're the cheapest option. I don't have any other ammo on hand in my house.

    I'm not comfortable enough with my gun to say it's really a SD option at this point. I'm continuing to work on it and will get there eventually. But.... if I were to be put in a situation where I could get to my firearm and use it for SD what would I be giving up if I were to engage a bad guy using good old Federal 9MM?

    I know that accuracy is a major component of this question as well so let's assume that I could shoot what I was aiming for and take that out of the discussion.

    I realize range ammo would be better than nothing, but how much of an advantage would I be giving up if I didn't use ammo that was better designed for the job?
  2. unit1069


    Oct 10, 2007
    So. Central US
    Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) bullets are designed to expand, creating a larger wound channel, which in turn leads to greater blood loss. This greater blood loss will lead to a faster drop in blood pressure, causing loss of consciousness and a quicker end to the threat.

    A second advantage to JHP is that as it expands in the perpetrator's body it slows the projectile, dumping all the bullet's energy into the body. JHP ammo (theoretically) has less chance of passing through the target's body and harming or killing an innocent person in close proximity to the perpetrator.

    The military carry FMJ ammo and it takes care of business every day. Premium JHP self-defense ammo is preferable against criminals, but if that's all you have I don't think you should be too worried about its effectiveness.

  3. Alaskapopo

    Alaskapopo NRA ENDOWMENT

    Feb 6, 2000
    Not trying to be rude but the Military's use of FMJ ammo is what has given calibers like the 5.56 and 9mm a poor reputation in a lot of circles. Which load you end up chosing is up to you but there is a substantion improvement in terminal performance. In fact load selection is more important than caliber selection. For example a good 9mm load like 147 grain Federal HST is a better choice by far than 45 ball.
  4. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    9mm FMJs will go right through a person and keep on going. Walls, etc.

    Get some JHPs.
  5. Jeepnik


    Mar 5, 2008
    All other things being equal, a jacketed hollow point (JHP) from a major manufacturer will generally expand and create a larger wound track than full metal jacket (also called ball) ammo. So, JHP's are usually the preferred ammo for self defense.

    But here's the important part, whatever ammo you choose to use, it must function reliably in "your" handgun. A geewiz round that fails causes weapons malfunctions isn't worth a damned.

    But if all you have is 9mm FMJ ammo, remember that it has been used successfully for over 100 years. The important thing to remember is that, regardless, of what ammo you are using, it must work, and you absolutely must strike your target in a vital area.

    Also, please remember that when you do choose a round for self defense use, you must verify that it will work every time in "your" handgun. This requires firing (opinions vary) a few hundred rounds in both a clean and dirty (some folks don't clean a weapon after every range session) firearm. That can get a bit expensive with some of today's geewiz ammo. If you can't afford to do the required function testing with geewiz ammo, step down in price to one you can afford. Because truth be told, any JPH from any major manufacturer, that functions in "your" handgun, is sufficient to the task, if you do your part.
  6. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    Don't lose sleep over it. You got the idea... hit what you aim at, keep hitting until the threat is stopped.

    Sometimes I think it's like guys arguing about which golf ball to hit. It really isn't going to make much difference until everything else about your technique is darn near perfect.
  7. 9mm FMJ, SIG 226 and you can hit what you aim at; this is a well known combination for double taps to the head.

    Bob :cowboy:
  8. Foxtrotx1


    Jan 29, 2010
    Scottsdale AZ
    FMJ will work, as it does everyday. Shot placement just becomes far more important. Hell, FMJ rounds will sever a CNS just dandy.
  9. voyager4520

    voyager4520 -----

    Apr 25, 2009
    SE Colorado
    The first reply by unit1069 has it spot on. The wound channel won't be as big with FMJ and the bullet will penetrate much further. The wound channel only comes into play if you did not hit a vital area that would stop a threat immediately so you're not giving up much in stopping power.

    Another benefit of JHP is with the penetration factor, a JHP will open up and deliver more of its energy in a smaller area, so it has less chance of over-penetrating through barriers and ending up possibly hurting someone else on the other side of a barrier.
  10. English


    Dec 24, 2005
    If you need to use a firearm for self defence it will almost always be because someone is shooting at you or just about to shoot at you. Your survivial then depends mainly on how quickly you can stop them shooting at you.

    At this point you will hear a lot of nonsense about accuracy and vital organs. These are two very different issues. Perhaps the most important fact is that your accuracy will be what it will be. It depends on your training level and your coolness under fire. Training level depends on your inherrent skill and your dedication to and time spent on training. Coolness is something you won't actually know until it happens. So, at any given time in the future there will be nothing you can do about your accuracy at that moment. Apart from that the circumstances of the fight will make it easier or harder to hit what you would choose to hit. These are all things you can do nothing about at the time. They are outside your control. One of the few things in your control is the round you choose to carry.

    Very roughly speaking, the shortness of the time that it takes you to stop your oponent shooting at you is a matter of how much damage you can do to him in a short time. As unit1069 explained, if you shoot a cartridge that has the capacity to go right through the body it is wasting some of the energy that could be used to create damage. With a full metal jacket round nosed 9mm, that is a significant proportion of its energy wasted. The simplistic idea that all you need to do is keep shooting is false because it means that your oponent is shooting at you for longer and so has more chance to kill or seriously injure you. A hollow point bullet delivers more damage per shot at no cost except money and so stops the fight sooner.

    The next thing you will hear about is the importance of hitting vital organs. The vital fact about vital organs is that the only vital organ relative to the time frame of a typical civilian versus criminal gun fight is the brain. That will stop the fight straight away! Next best is the heart but that can take 15 to 30 seconds to stop someone from acting at a lethal level. That is 5 to 10 times the length of a typical gun fight. Other vital organs will increase the rate of bleed out relative to the same damage to fat and muscle but now we are talking several minutes up to half an hour or more. As you lie their dying it might console you to know that your oponent will die too but it is far better to survive.

    Both the brain and the heart are small targets if both of the oponents are moving and so it is poor strategy to rely on hitting either. You survive by doing rapid critical damage to the muscles and bones of the body to reduce the ability of your oponent to shoot back at you. Only when he is sufficiently disabled can you risk making a specifically rapidly lethal shot or running away. If you shoot someone, say 5 times, rapidly with an effective cartridge in a reasonably upper half of the body region, you have a good chance that they will die but you can't guarantee that it will stop them shooting at you. What you can guarantee is that each hit will disrupt and delay their next shot at you for some small time and that the cumulative damage will reduce their ability to shoot at speed with sufficient accuracy. For this you need good bullets with as much kinetic energy as you can control reasonably well.

  11. righteoushoot

    righteoushoot Deluxe Member

    Oct 22, 2008
    Not New York (N.E. OH)
    Well said English.

    Also, since you are legally responsible for every shot you fire, (no free walks because you were defending yourself), you might want to reconsider the over-penetrating characteristics of ball ammo, whether having passed through the bad guy, or just your bedroom wall into your neighbor's kid's room 20' away.

    I don't see how the ball ammo benefits you in a SD situation, unless it's in a mousegun (< or = .380) :wavey:
  12. ColCol


    Apr 15, 2010
    Like this bad boy here.....45 200 gr Speer JHP
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010
  13. outd00rs


    May 21, 2010
    Thanks for all the information. You guys are opening up my eyes to some of the very difficult and important things that you need to think about. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    In my SD scenario I'm trying to determine that best course of action. My house setup is as follows:<o:p></o:p>
    All bedrooms are on the second floor of my home. <o:p></o:p>
    My youngest daughter's room is at the top of the steps and the next room down the hall is my oldest daughter. My room is at the end of the hall. <o:p></o:p>
    My biggest concern is that if I were to confront a BG in the hall both of my daughters' rooms are off the hall. A FMJ round would have a high probability of penetrating through a wall and possibly hitting one of my children unless it hit a wall stud. That isn't a chance that I'd really be willing to take. <o:p></o:p>
    Sounds like a hollow point would reduce this possibility, but still not a chance I would want to take. What would a standard reaction be from a hollow point that hit drywall but no stud? Would the energy dissipate enough to be safe? <o:p></o:p>
    Should I be looking more along the lines of shotgun? Is there any other alternative to be looking into? <o:p></o:p>
  14. Jeff82

    Jeff82 NRA Benefactor CLM

    Feb 25, 2002
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  15. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004

    Basically, if it won't penetrate drywall, it's useless as a SD round accept maybe at contact distances (think 12ga birdshot). If you are truely concerned, place things on the incoming wall that will deflect or slow bullet penetration; book shelves w/ books, solid wood furniture. The chance of a miss on the BG will be great, lighter JHP will penetrate any media less & may be an option. Practice so you don't miss.:dunno:
  16. FatBoy

    FatBoy Millennium Member

    Sep 2, 1999

    Don't get too overwhelmed. There's a lot of info out there, and some of it is confusing/complicated, or contradictory to what you would think.

    1st thing: standard interior walls are not good cover. Most any SD rounds will go through them, including premium JHPs. Shotgun rounds also, well except bird shot, but that is not what I would call a good SD round.

    IMHO pick one of the premium JHPs for your caliber, from one of the major manufactures and that will be fine. Look at this list for recommendations...

    Be advised, its not the end all/be all, but provides a good reference.

    Now that we have decided that interior walls are not good cover against small fast moving projectiles, you need to think about shooting position. I know you can't know where you may be, the intruder may be, or your family may be during an "attack", but one of the things to think about is knowing your backstop. Meaning what is behind what you are shooting at. Is it better to position yourself on your knees and be shooting up, or on the left side of the hall so you would be shooting away from your children's bed rooms, assuming they are on that side too. Any way, trying to figure out the safest angle of attack is important, so you are shooting away from your family, as well as any neighbors. This should be a good part of your preparation too. Is there a window at the end of your hall, that just so happens to point directly at your neighbors bed room? (Just an example)

    The nice thing about good JHPs, is if you hit your target, there is less chance of going through. Or at least, it won't have much energy left. If you miss, that is a whole different story. It still will go through an interior wall. I would say, most shooting I have read over the years, don't have a 100% hit rate, so knowing your backstop is an important thing to consider IMHO.

    As someone once said, every bullet that leaves your gun has a lawyer attached to it.:whistling: