The Seven Deadly Sins of Concealed Carry: Using the Wrong Ammo

I had a lot of fun with the “Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting” series a couple of months ago, and hope you did too. I got to thinking about other sins—yeah, I know, thinking can hurt your brain—and it occurred to me that there are plenty of deadly sins when it comes to concealed carry. There are way more than seven, but as “Seven Deadly Sins” is kind of a thing, I’ll pick out seven interesting, and relevant, ones.

Ready? Let’s get started.

If you’ve ever seen a Wallace and Gromit movie, then you know that The Wrong Trousers can get you in a lot of trouble. So can the wrong ammunition. Using inappropriate ammo can ruin not only your life, but someone else’s too.

Good self-defense ammunition comes in all shapes and sizes. The fourth round standing from the left is a 9mm full metal jacket practice round. The one on the far right is a Federal Guard Dog expanding full metal jacket round.

Good self-defense ammunition comes in all shapes and sizes. The fourth round standing from the left is a 9mm full metal jacket practice round. The one on the far right is a Federal Guard Dog expanding full metal jacket round.

Don’t use practice ammo

Good self-defense ammunition is designed to expand, deform, or otherwise slow down when it hits things.

Good self-defense ammunition is designed to expand, deform, or otherwise slow down when it hits things.

I would classify “practice ammo” as anything designed to be frangible (for indoor or steel target shooting) or with a full metal jacket. Don’t get me wrong, practice ammo is not sub-par—it’s just designed for a different purpose than self-defense ammo. You can buy excellent and accurate practice ammo from all the reputable ammo companies. Some of it is designed especially for matches and is exceedingly accurate—with a corresponding price tag.

Good self-defense ammunition is designed to expand, deform, or otherwise slow down when it hits things.

As good as it might be, practice ammo is designed to follow a straightforward sequence of events: go bang. Fly straight. Punch a hole in a piece of paper. Plow into a big dirt, rubber, or steel backstop. Practice ammo is not designed to deform, fragment, or expand when it hits an organic target. While it may still have fatal results, it’s less effective at stopping a determined attacker rapidly.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!


    • Walter H says

      First dump the high point and get a reliable firearm like a Glock or something similar and then use something like Hornady Critical Defense

        • Steve says

          I carry a Glock 19 or SPXD sub. Both great pistols. I shot almost every make and model. Range days with vendors, used on the shelf, my collection. Sold thousands. Be honest hi-points don’t jam or break.

        • says

          Nobody answered his question. His question was what 9mm ammo should he use for the best stopping power. Apparently nobody read that. People, reply to the question someone asks, don’t inject your own biases against the type of firearm he is using. He did not ask for opinions on his firearm choice.

    • says

      This is a good question, that opens a huge can of worms. Stopping power and 9mm are not often thought of as a combination. You’ll usually here the 45 ACP guys chime in about now. However, I personally like having more rounds available. That being said, what Walter H suggested is great. Hornady Critical Defense is great ammunition. I generally prefer the 124gr round, but you can get heavier than that. It really depends on what you and your firearm shoot best.

    • says

      Hey Robert – A direct answer to that might start an internet war over ammo choice :-) In my opinion, there are a number of good solutions. We’ve done lots of ammo testing through clothing type barriers here:

      Also, just to clarify, I’m reluctant to use the word “stopping power” in the same sentence as handguns. They make holes in things, and sometimes holes in the right places and/or enough of them “stop” a determined attacker.

      With that said, the criteria I look for in ammo choice (again getting into my personal opinion) include these:

      – Reliability in the specific handgun. This will hurt the piggy bank, but shoot your chosen defensive ammo out of your specific gun, the HiPoint in this case, to make sure it’s reliable in your gun. All premium ammo is “reliable” in general, so what this refers to is the specific combination of your ammo and your gun. Does it always eject properly? Feed properly? First or last round in a mag work properly always? You have to burn a bunch of full magazines of the expensive ammo to be sure.

      – Does it expand like you want? I prefer to know my ammo will expand even after going through hollow-point clogging barriers like leather, denim, etc. It’s not a perfect science, but some perform better than others. If you can’t create your own test scenario, then look at reviews where people have tested shooting through clothing barriers. Shooting into plain gel doesn’t tell too much in my view as nearly any ammo will make picture perfect expansion.

      With all that said, in 9mm, I really like bonded projectiles like Speer Gold Dot and Winchester PDX1. They expand nicely and stay together. Had great success with Hornady Critical Defense also – you’ll see some examples at the ammo reviews link above.

      • says

        A Hi Point is a reliable, accurate gun just not as durable as a Glock, SIG, S&W, or Springfield. I know folks who only shoot their Hi Point once or twice a year and their gun is GTG. As far as ammo goes, any major manufacturer’s hollow point ammo will do the job if it 1. Works 100% in YOUR gun and 2. You do your part by putting your hits where they count. I like the ammo Federal sells especially the HST line. Gold Dot, Remington and Winchester all make great ammunition. The “white box” Winchester hollow point ammo and the UMC hollow point ammo by Remington is good budget ammo.

  1. walt says

    Using a Ruger P95 what would be the “correct” ammo. I have Winchester white box, magteck, independence and federal. ALL is fmj.
    I do have a box of nosler HP serrated tips.

  2. WaltersAMoron says

    Pull your head out of your ass and anser his question Walter. A HiPoint in the hand is worth far more than a Glock in the store.

  3. says

    First off the ammo you use should be tested in the firearm that you are going to be shooting. The gun will pick which ammo it likes best. Does it feed well, eject and what is the MOA. I have seen Glocks and Kimbers fail on the firing line and that cheap Hi-Point keeps firing. Change ammo and they all fire. I carry Winchester Silver Tips 115g because my EDC likes them.

  4. Hugh says

    Test your ammo of choice and make sure it doesn’t have any issues. Also check with the gun’s manual to make sure it can handle +P rounds.

  5. jp says

    my personal preference useing a glock chambered in .357 sig would be a 1750fps 115 gr jacketed hollow point. the whole point behind shooting a person in self defense is to prevent over penatration and hitting a bystander like nyc cops did twice most recently. using a light grain round reduces penatration and increases the fact that the individual you hit is going to absorb every single pound of energy the round is producing. the next benfit is a lighter round is a faster round giving better ballistic flight over a longer distance. hence better accuracy. cor-bon makes a great defensive round also for self defense mosad ayoob from the leathal force institue high recommends their rounds for 9mm.

  6. says

    All the expanding rounds are great in the average situation. Wait till they stay in your car door Etc, that you are forced to shoot through. I “Dutch load mine.” So the next one up can be the right tool for the job

  7. Clay says

    I carry Frangible RCBD 40cal 800lbs at 2300fps. I have seen go through a 1970’s truck door in a clay block and a gold dot didn’t make through the door. The same ammo explode a clay block and the gold dot went through the block.

  8. says

    To those who own the big brand handguns. They are nice if you can afford them, some of us can’t so don’t denigrate the weapon we can afford. Mine is an Iberia .40 caliber, it shoots, that’s what counts.

    • PAGSDIII says

      No disrespect. I am able to buy two GLOCKS for the price of one from my gun-seller though. At least you shoot the right caliber…….(.40) Haha. Nothing wrong with non-biggy brands.

  9. Randy Ferguson says

    I took classes in CA the instructor was pretty adamant on not using hollow point ammo for cc purposes was he not correct??

    • says

      Wow that’s shocking. I’m having trouble imagining why an instructor would say that? What was his reasoning? Was he talking about a students specific gun that had trouble feeding hollow point ammunition?

      Virtually every law enforcement agency uses HP as it’s safer – for the person getting shot (weird but true as mortality rates are lower), passers by, etc, etc.

    • Texas TopCat says

      Well, if you have a gun that is not reliable with hollow point ammo, then you are better of with reliable rather than a jam. Your statement is mostly heard from people that have .45 1911 style guns where it is a more common issue, most can be fixed and the mags are many times the cause. Now, the difference between a hollow point .45 ACP and a FMJ .45 is less dramatic than say for 9mm. Lower velocity and larger bullet both are factors. Several studies that look at police shootings have shown the the difference for .45ACP is only a couple of percentage points. My personal recommendation is that if you have a gun that does not handle HP ammo well, you either do not carry for SD or you get it fixed.

    • Texas TopCat says

      Some it comes from, “if it good enough for the military it is good enough” attitude. Now, we should all know that argument is not valid, since military has restrictions that civilians do not have. The other reason is 3X the cost for HP ammo, however, there are some good HP ammo with long successful history like 9BPLE that is not much more expensive that FMJ. 9BPLE is probably not the best at this time, but not bad and is still used by some police departments.

      • says

        It’s funny that a lot of people bring up the cost issue. Once you’ve verified that a given self defense round works in your gun, you only need a box or two every year or so. I shoot cheap stuff or reloads for practice and load the same self defense ammo when I carry, so cost isn’t a factor really.

  10. Jerry Crosley says

    The bit about not carrying JHP ammo came up in a CCW renewal that I attended quite a few years ago, in Arizona. When I asked how come, the instructor said that there have been cases where good shootings have gone south in court, because defense attornies claimed that JHP’s are meant to kill, and having them in the weapon meant that the shooter was out there, looking for a live target and not practicing self defense.

    I didn’t buy his justification, even though he claimed that Mr. Ayoob had been an expert witness in one such case. It has amazed me over the years, how much utter c__p is presented in some CCW courses, mostly by ‘experts’ who have been shooting beer cans and bullseyes most of their lives, but have no real combat experience.

    • jabbakitty says

      In South Carolina, it’s a requirement for concealed carry to use only hollow points in public. This is to make it safer for bystanders because the HPs will stop at target and not likely to travel or ricochet. But for home defense it’s OK to use FMJ rounds. My daughter lives in a crowded development, so it is preferable for her to use HPs for the same reason. She doesn’t want a FMJ rounds going into neighbor’s yards or houses. As for cost, bite the bullet (no pun intended…lol) and go through some boxes until you get the best perfoming rounds for your weapon. If you are going to carry, you must be resonsible and buy the best HP match possible. After that the cost isn’t an issue anymore.

  11. says

    I second Tom’s advice to shoot your chosen self-defense ammo to make sure that it feeds and ejects. I’ve owned a pistol that shot FMJ but would not feed rounds with blunt-nosed bullets. So, you work out with your pistol and do lots of two-to-the-chest followed up with a head shot, only to load up different expensive ammo and go forth into the dangerous streets. What if your pistol does not want to feed it?

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