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Tips on Selecting the Right Self Defense Ammunition

Having reliable and effective ammunition when it comes to self-defense and when carrying a concealed weapon, is crucial. There should be no doubt in your mind if ever faced with a self-defense situation, that your firearm will not fail to fire. All the major manufactures offer many varieties of defensive ammunition to choose from. Here are a few tips to narrow down the options and help pick the best ammunition for you.

1. Have the rounds been put through FBI test protocols?

The FBI tests ammo loads shot into a specific mix of ballistic gelatin. You can research if and how certain manufacture ammunition has performed in these tests. The highest-rated rounds penetrate the gelatin between 12 and 18 inches when fired from a distance of 10 feet. Even though the tests are only rated in a controlled environment and there is no direct relationship to a real-life violent encounter, statistics show that ammunition that performs well in these tests, tend to perform well in self-defense situations.

2. Do they perform well in your firearm?

This should be pretty obvious, but it is something I need to mention. Defense grade rounds are more expensive than standard rounds, and you don't want to waste a lot of them at the range. Although, I would recommend that you run through at least 100 rounds with no failure to fire before you settle on your ammunition. The more you continue to test and guarantee that your rounds are cycling properly, the better peace of mind you have that your firearm will work if you need it.

3. Are they consistently accurate?

When you are testing your defense rounds at the range, you want to test that they perform best for you. It is not the same for everyone. Ideally, you want to choose a round that consistently results in the tightest groups. Excessive recoil slows recovery, which slows successive shots. For defense, you must be able to shoot quickly and accurately. Everyone has to individually find the right threshold of power and control.

4. Are the rounds readily available to you?

It is recommended that you change your defense ammunition at least once a year. As I mentioned, it is very important to practice and put as much of the ammo you choose for self-defense as possible through your firearm to ensure it's the highest state of dependability. Once you find your perfected defense rounds, it is good to know that it will always be available to you when you need it, and will most likely be available long-term. Personally, every time I go to the range, the first thing I do is cycle through the defense rounds that I keep in my day-to-day carry to make sure they still perform well and to replace them with fresh ammunition. You must also factor in the cost here as well. You want to choose a round that you can afford to test and change out regularly.

5. What type do you prefer?

There are a few types of defense rounds on the market. If a round meets all of the previous criteria, it is really just a personal preference of which type you want to carry. You can research the pros and cons of all of them to help you better make your decision, but here is just a quick summary:

  • JHP or Jacketed Hollow Point - The standard for defense rounds. The construction causes the bullet to mushroom out when it enters soft tissue expanding while inside the target.
  • Polymer Tipped Rounds - A polymer tip seated on a hollow point gives the bullet better flight performance along with the expansion capability. However, these rounds can penetrate further at the cost of reliably expanding.
  • Frangible Rounds - Made from a brittle metal they are designed to fragment upon entering the target. They are immune to ricochet which can make them ideal for urban environments.

The rule of thumb is to find a round the cycles flawlessly in your firearm, you can shoot accurately, has a proven tested history, and that fits your budget. Once you find the right one for you, I recommend to stick with it and get familiar with it as much as possible. 

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