It never ceases to amaze me when American citizens go out and purchase the newest, coolest, master blaster for personal protection and then load it with the cheapest ammunition they can find. I've been witness at the gun shop counter when a person bought the latest pistol on the cover of all the gun magazines and then asked the clerk, "What's least expensive ammo you've got?"
Folks, if you are genuinely serious about saving your life or that of those you love with a firearm, now is not the time to be bargain shopping, at least not where personal defense ammunition is concerned. Yes, bargain shop for practice ammunition, but when that pistol goes into the holster or on the nightstand it should have the highest quality fodder you can afford. Let's take a moment to examine some of what is available in high quality personal defense ammunition.
Federal Unleashes the Guard Dog
Federal Ammunition let their new brand of personal defense ammunition off the chain in Las Vegas this year. The new "Guard Dog" line of self-defense ammo will initially be offered in three loads: 9x19mm, .40 S&W, and .45ACP.
Guard Dog ammunition is loaded with Federal's proprietary closed-tip controlled expansion projectiles. By definition they are not "hollow-point" bullets as there is no open cavity. The projectiles themselves are silver colored and mated with nickel plated cartridge cases. These bullets were actually first released as copper colored slugs under another label and are essentially the silver version of Federal's EFMJ (expanding full metal jacket).
The new Guard Dog is a "Premium" load that uses the best powder and primers available. This personal protection ammunition is offered in twenty-round boxes. The projectiles are lightweight and the ammo is loaded hot. For instance, the 9mm load is 105 grains traveling at 1230 feet per second. The .40 load is 135 grains moving at 1200 FPS and finally, the .45 ACP load is 165 grains traveling at 1140 FPS according to the manufacturer.
Winchester Expands the PDX1 Defender Line
Capitalizing on the success of their PDX1 Defender personal protection ammunition, Winchester has introduced additional loads to the lineup. Having covered the basic auto-loading handgun calibers, Winchester announced PDX1 loads in .357 SIG, .357 Magnum, .223 Remington, and a 3-inch .410 Shotgun shell.
Winchester is loading their own bonded, copper-jacketed projectiles into nickel plated cases and marketing them in the "Supreme" line. The PDX1 ammunition is designed to maximize expansion while retaining bullet integrity and initial weight. The .357 caliber loads are natural fits for personal protection handguns and the .410 load is a direct response to the line of Judge revolvers from Taurus and now the Governor from S&W.
Hornady Critical Defense and Training Ammunition
Hornady has expanded their popular Critical Defense line of cartridges to include loadings for .44 Special and .45 Colt to meet the demand from owners of defensive revolvers such as those from Charter Arms, S&W, and Taurus. These new cartridges are loaded with the 165-grain FTX bullet to deliver controlled expansion, even through heavy clothing.
Also added a to the Critical Defense product line was a .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire load. Like their bigger bore ammo, the .22 Win. Mag. Critical Defense round uses Flex Tip technology to provide controlled expansion. Could this load have come from the recent popularity of the Kel-Tec PMR 30? Perhaps.
Those with defensive shotguns will appreciate that Hornady has added a 12 gauge shotgun shell to the Critical Defense line up. This 12 gauge load contains eight pellets of 00 Buck shot that are stabilized for better patterning by a Versatite™ wad. Hornady lists the velocity for is scattergun load at 1600 feet per second.
All of the previously mentioned loads had several components in common. The ammunition is constructed with high quality brass cases that are nickel-coated for reliable feeding and corrosion resistance. Only the highest quality powder is used. Most all defensive ammunition is made with a reduced flash powder. Naturally the projectiles are designed to expand after encountering resistance. This isn't a guarantee but the likelihood of expansion exists. Premium ammunition also included a sealed primer to keep out any moisture or gun oil that could potential ruin the primer.
If you are completely at a loss for what ammunition to load into your personal protection handgun, ask around and see what the local law enforcement officers are using. That same ammunition in one form or another should be available to you (unless you live in New Jersey).
Regarding personal defense, choosing the correct ammunition is a critical step in your overall personal protection strategy. Not all ammo is made the same. Some ammunition is specifically designed from sport or recreational shooting. It is built with economy in mind.
Protecting your life or the lives of those you love is the most critical, serious task you will ever be asked to perform. That anyone would trust their life to the cheapest, least expensive ammunition makes no sense to me. Running ordinary, cheap ammunition in a life-saving gun makes about as much sense as running cheap gas in a Formula One racecar. You took the time to pick out the right gun to protect your life. Put the same care into choosing the ammunition you will load in it.
Visit the SOTG Brownells Superstore to purchse your ammo.
Paul Markel © 2013
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