The ammo shortage for the most part, is starting to decrease
across the country, or at least in the area that I am currently in. While that
was especially annoying for hunting season (apparently 30-30 was making a
comeback this year), I was able to go and train for the most part throughout
the last 6 months, even if the ammo of choice wasn’t always there. Now, with
more ammo on the shelves, there is more of an ability to choose what to carry every
day, even if it seems more expensive thanks to inflation and price gouging. With
that said, I want to emphasize some of the most common, and recommend what you
not only carry, but practice with…I am a big proponent of practicing with the
same rounds and weights you carry every day.
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ):
This was the
standard for warfare, hunting, and target shooting for years, up until better
technology or conventions (such as Geneva) prevented the use of anything but.
These rounds are copper coated lead slugs, usually the standard for practice,
and typically function the best in all pistols. This is due to the smooth
jacket easing feeding in auto-loading pistols, whereas others can snag on the
feed ramps. My neighbor growing up used 45 FMJ in his Thompson as a tank
platoon leader in the Pacific, and he said with a grin, “works well on heads at
30 yards”. While these may not cause the most damage from hydro-static shock or
create the largest wound channel they still can work in self-defense in a
pinch. It is important to note all military rounds are FMJ, and while not
optimal still work well in the right hands and put in the right spots. Not my
first choice, but if you can only get 200 rounds of FMJ, train with 150 of them
at the range and carry the rest.
Hollow point (HP/JHP):
Hollowpoints are the
industry standard for self-defense due to their ability to mushroom out after contacting
flesh at high speed and creating a larger wound channel. This was seen as much
improved to FMJ, as the latter does tend to punch straight through, with little
energy transfer. There are downsides to HPs that must be talked about. First is
depending on the round, some are not as reliable for either feeding
effectively, or mushrooming out. This can be compounded if the target has heavy
jacket/clothing, as in the past some of these became essentially slugs. The
second to this is that they tend to be much more expensive (like almost
double/round in my area), which makes training much more expensive. One way
around the latter is to buy the same round/grain weight to train on, and carry
the other AFTER function checking to ensure no shift in point of aim (POA) and
point of impact (POI). Another option is to test your rounds if you are able.
For example, I took my 45ACP handloads out to go hunting hogs and ended up
using them. They worked great, and I was able to see what the damage was. Same
test with FMJ on different hog, not nearly the same result. Both were dead, one
with significantly less holes.
There are a ton of specialty rounds out there like Ripper
Rounds, Tracer, dragons breath (12 gauge) and others. These in my opinion are
marketing hype or ineffective at what they should be used for. Tracers look
pretty, but they are meant to mark fire where you are shooting to get others to
aim there, not effective at stopping a threat. I would steer clear of unproven
rounds, especially as it relates to my life.
Lead rounds: Cheap and work just fine, especially for
target, NOT IN GLOCKS!
Wadcutter/Semi-Wadcutter: great for holes on paper, usually
made from lead, and designed for shooting in cowboy guns (although I have used
in a 1911 with no ill effects). Best for target
What are your favorites?
Also be sure to check out JM4 Tactical for your holster needs!
Author: Ian Bolser