• Ammunition

    Most handguns chosen for personal defense, either for carry or in the home will most likely utilize center-fire ammunition. Center-fire ammunition is a cartridge in which the primer is located in the center of the cartridge case head. Unlike rimfire cartridges, the primer is a separate and replaceable component.

    Image above: A cartridge(2) packages the bullet(1), gunpowder(3) and primer(5) into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that is located at the center of the case head(4) (center-fire ammunition) or at its rim (rim-fire ammunition).

    For a self-defense handgun, a firearm capable of shooting a .38 caliber round is generally considered the minimum. However, people have been known to carry .25 caliber pocket size semi-automatics and people have certainly been killed with .22 caliber rounds. The best advice is to find a gun range that rents firearms and try out several. Find a caliber you are capable of handling comfortably.

    When matching ammunition to a firearm, always verify that the caliber marking on the barrel matches the caliber marked on the box of ammunition you have purchased and on the head of the cartridge case.

    For target shooting, look for inexpensive name brand ammunition that is non-corrosive and has a bullet type of FMJ (full metal jacket). Most bullets are made from lead. Bullets marked as FMJ are lead bullets with a copper jacket covering the lead. Copper jacketed bullets seem to leave less of a mess in the firearm thus making it easier to clean the gun after target shooting. While you can certainly shoot any type of bullet style, the full metal jacketed bullets seem to be among the most popular for target loads. Fully jacketed bullets do not generally have the expansion properties of hollow point bullets.

    For self-defense ammunition, only buy high quality name brand cartridges. Most often, personal-defense ammunition comes in some variation of a hollow-point bullet. If your firearm of choice is a semi-automatic, shoot a couple boxes of personal-defense ammunition through the gun to ensure proper functioning and feeding. Some semi-automatic handguns have difficulty feeding hollow-point ammunition so you might need to try different brands or type of ammunition (expanding full metal jacketed [EFMJ] ammo). You do not want to discover a feeding issue with your firearm at the exact moment you need to use your gun in self-defense. While any reputable gun shop, police officer or gun enthusiast can recommend good personal-defense ammunition, Federal Hydra-Shok and Winchester SXT seem to be two of the more popular brands for personal-defense rounds. There are many others so just shop around.

    Hollow-point bullets are designed to expand when they enter the body. The expansion accomplishes a couple things. First, the expanded bullet will create a larger wound channel in the body. Generally speaking, the people that die from a gunshot wound die from excessive blood loss. The faster the attacker loses blood the quicker we stop his deadly threat. Second, hollow-point bullets are less likely to leave the body. This is a result of the bullets expansion. This is a good-thing because if you should ever have to shoot someone in self-defense, you do not want your bullet to exit the attackers body and kill an innocent person located to the rear of your assailant. Remember, know your target and what is beyond.