Thursday, May 17, 2012

Self Defense Rounds

I have been teaching some people basic firearms safety and shooting to some people lately, and the subject of tactical and self defense shooting always comes up. I don't ever talk about tactics of self defense shooting beyond the basic draw, conceal positions, and the Weaver stance. There are much more qualified instructors for that.

I do talk about self defense rounds, because it is necessary to know the different types of ammo and their uses. The question is always asked, what self defense rounds do you use? Well... I have shot a lot of different rounds, and I found the ones that I like best.

All of the self defense ammunition for my handguns are hollow point rounds. Hollow points are used for self defense because they open up when they strike their target.   Opening up, means that there is more surface area to interact with the target.  This causes the bullet to tumble and they transfer all of their energy in to their target. This also means that the bullet will tend not to pass through the target, and endanger anyone behind the target.  For a fun demonstration the guys at ADSI have a video of them shooting a melon with a Full Metal Jacket round and then a melon with a hollow point round.

First, I will go over the ones that I have shot. I have to stress that the choice of self defense ammo is a personal one. You send a bunch of rounds down range and use the ones that you like best. All of the rounds that I shot have very similar ballistic statistics. I like the ones I shoot for a few reasons that I will state later on.

Cor-Bon Pow'R'Ball

I started using Cor-Bon's Pow'R'Ball  when I had my Kahr CW45.  Hollow point ammunition usually has an edge on it where the nose is cut off and the cavity begins.  If your pistol is picky about ammunition, like my Kahr was, this is a good choice.  The gelatin tip kept the round nose of a FMJ bullet, but it would disintegrate on impact leaving a standard hollow point bullet.
This ammo is 165 grains in weight behind a +P load of powder.
Velocity at 50 yards is 1024 feet per second.

Hornady Zombie Max

I admit that I fell for the hype of the Z-Max.  They are virtually identical in every way to the less expensive Hornady XTP round.  They ARE the XTP with a green tip in the cavity and a cooler box.  I liked the way these shot, but they are very expensive out of the box.  There is no real benefit to the Z-Max round, other than you can tell your friends that you carry anti-zombie rounds.
This ammo is 185 grains in weight under a standard powder load.
Velocity is 853 fps at 50 yards.

Winchester PDX1 Defender
When this bullet first came out it was marketed under the "Black Talon" name.  The bullets were even jacketed in black metal.  What made them unique was that when the bullet opened the "petals" would be razor sharp to incur more tissue damage.  This was a bad move by Winchester.  The Liberals got a hold of this marketing and went nuts.  To much fanfare and noise, Winchester removed the Black Talons from the market. 
Soon after that mess they released the PDX1 Personal Protection round...  It looks, weighs, and acts EXACTLY like the Black Talon.  Why?  Because it is the Black Talon under a new name and a new metal jacket covering the lead.  


Black Talon

See the differences?  Nether can I.
This is a 230 grain bullet under a standard powder load.
Velocity at 50 yards is 882.

My Rounds
I carry the PDX1s.  I like the way they shoot.  They keep their speed really well for such a heavy round so that makes them very accurate.

Recoil is the worst on the Pow'R'Balls.  Throwing 165 grains at almost 1200 fps out of the muzzle really takes some punch.

What I like about PDX1s over the other rounds is that they are "bonded."  That means that the jacket is bonded to the lead core.  There is no fragmentation of the round, so everything is more consistent.  Does it make a difference?  Or do the petals give some sort of wound advantage?

You shoot to stop a threat, and the PDX1s will stop threats quicker than the other rounds.


Despite my love of handguns, they are NOT the best self defense weapons for your house.  That honor, in my opinion, belongs to the shotgun.  Close up, Shotguns are devastatingly effective.  Further back, not really going to hurt anyone much.  Exactly what you want in a defensive weapon in a home.
For a long time the 00 (pronounced "double ought") buckshot ruled the self defense market.  There was some interest in slugs, but the 00 gave the best chance of a hit.
Recently, shotgun ammunition manufacturers are reaching back in to the past for help to put a new take on an old idea.
What if you could combine the effectiveness of a shotgun slug with the hit potential of buckshot?  Our ancestors came up with the idea of "buck and ball" ammunition that did just that.  They put a standard musket ball and three or four buckshot down the barrels of their smooth bore muskets and increased their hit potential in close combat.  This method was so loved by Americans that George Washington himself would arrange his ranks so that those with Kentucky long rifles would be the "volley" shot ranks, and those with muskets loaded with buck and ball would form the rest.  Giving the poorly trained American troops better combat effectiveness when the armies closed to fight.  They didn't need to worry as much about accuracy as the British troops firing musket balls.
This load was well used past the time of the American Civil War; up until specific cartridges of breech loading firearms took over as the weapons of choice for the military.

With such firearms as the hand held .410 Taurus Judge coming on the scene there was a new demand for self defense shotgun rounds in something other than 00 buck.  Winchester took a look at the problem, reached back in to history and brought buck and ball back to the future.  They didn't forget about the most popular gauge of shotgun, and released their PDX1 Defender buck and ball shells for 12 gauge soon after.
Here is a cut away of what it looks like:

You can see the buck on top of a rifled "ball".  It is all kinds of awesome.  This is the ultimate in self defense rounds, and it is what my shotguns are currently loaded with.

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