Issue 28

Choosing The Correct Self-Defense Cartridge - Part 2

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Part 2:  Handguns

As I noted in our last issue -

Let's first come to a common understanding regarding the use of any firearm.  Your intent should be to fire as few shots as is necessary to stop the threat.  When the threat stops, you stop.

That means that if you pull out your weapon and the assailant stops, turns and runs away, you do not shoot at all.  If the assailant continues forward in a threatening manner, you fire until the threat stops.

The last issue covered Rifle and Shotgun ammuniton for self-defense.  In this issue, we'll explore ammuniton for handguns.

What many people call 'a bullet' is actually called a cartridge.  The bullet is actually just the projectile at the end of the cartridge that is fired at a target. 

There are many options for bullets - jacketed, wad cutters, round-nose, hollow-point and frangibles.  Here's a bit about each type:

Jacketed - the lead bullet is either fully or partially covered (jacketed) in a harder metal - usually copper.  It is a good cartridge to use while practicing with your gun at the range, as it leaves less fouling in your barrel.

Wad Cutters - the face of the bullet is flattened.  This is often used during some types of shooting competitions, as it typically makes a larger hole than a jacketed bullet.  This increases the likelihood of a shot that is close to a target ring actually touching that ring, giving you higher points.

Round-nose - is just what it sounds like.  It is a ball of lead that is rounded.  It is often used as target practice ammunition, but leads to more fouling in your barrel.  It is usually the least expensive type of ammunition.

Hollow-point - is a bullet that has had a portion of the tip of the bullet removed.  When the bullet strikes a target, it "mushrooms" outwards, transferring much more of the energy of the bullet into the target.

Frangibles - in general, these are bullets that have been broken into many tiny pieces and re-assembled (usually with some sort of glue or adhesive).  When they hit the target, they re-break on impact.  The idea behind these is that they can transfer a lot of the energy of the bullet to the target, while also reducing the chances of a missed shot going through a wall and hitting a neighbor or family member.

For self-defense purposes, only hollow-points and frangibles should be considered.  

Why?  As stated earlier, in a self-defense situation, your intent should be to fire as few shots as is necessary to stop the threat.  This means you want to transfer as much energy from the fired bullet to the attacker to stop them as quickly as possible. 

Using a cartridge that uses a Full Metal Jacketed bullet, the chances are very good that the bullet will travel straight through your attacker.  You will need to fire again (and again?) to make them stop their assault on you.

A hollow point or frangible round will deliver more energy (called 'knock-down power') to the attacker.  Fewer shots, less likelihood of a missed shot hitting an innocent person.

What are the down-sides to these types of bullets?  They cost more.  In the case of the frangibles, a lot more.  A practice cartridge might cost you $0.25 each.  A hollow point might cost $0.40.  A frangible in the same caliber might cost you $2.00 or more.  Each.

Why is that an issue?  Because whatever cartridge you choose for self-defense, you MUST practice with it.  You need to know how that exact cartridge will perform in YOUR gun. 

Some of the frangible cartridges have a reputation for not fully ejecting a fired cartridge from a semi-automatic pistol.  It may work fine in one pistol, but it may fail in your model. 

Your life literally depends upon that self-defense cartridge working perfectly every single time.

Next Issue:  Physical Stamina In Self-Defense

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