One of the first topics that is discussed, often before a gun purchase, is caliber. Which
round has the most “Stopping Power” or which round is best for self-defense. The topic of ballistics is one that I have spent a great deal of time studying and probing more knowledgeable persons about, and I have barely scratched the surface. The science behind ammunition and its development
over the past couple hundred years is fascinating to me, but most people, understandably will find it to be a dry topic. The fact is that ballistics, the science of projectiles and firearms is ever changing. Five years ago .40 caliber was significantly more powerful than 9mm, but now with technological advancements, 9mm is right on the cusp of the .40 threshold. The 9mm round being the more affordable for both training and defense is now the more logical choice. It is also the most common handgun round in the world.
I don’t want to dive too deep into ballistics, but for now I want this post to equip the new shooter with information that will lead to a more educated purchase. Let’s talk basics…
Hollow Points vs Ball Ammo
Hollow Points are self-descriptive and are a bullet designed and intended to disperse their energy upon impact. Some will say the term “flowering open,” and this can result in the round stopping inside of the target, or greatly slowing down after penetration. Can you tell that sentence sounded like a lawyer wrote it? The reason behind this is because bullets do weird things, unpredictable things. There is no guarantee that the hollow point ammo you purchase will not over penetrate and hit an unintended bystander, or go through drywall, 2x4’s or glass. The liability, civil and criminal, for deadly force against an innocent 3 rd party is a very real threat. That is why you want to know your target and what is in front and behind. Some shooters will talk about how using hollow points are better because they are deadlier, but that is not the logic or science behind their creation, nor do we “shoot to kill” in Texas. We shoot to stop a threat! With that disclaimer being noted, we want to make sure our liability is as shored up as possible, and ball ammo increases our liability when used in self-defense.
What is “Ball ammo?”
Some call it range ammo, practice ammo, FMJ (full metal jacket), but it is a bullet(projectile) that is not designed to expand upon impact. Also, contrast to hollow point, it is not hollow. Ball ammo is cheaper and is why people practice, compete and train with it. Price Self-defense rounds (hollow point) will almost always be more expensive than range ammo (ball). The box count is usually 20 as opposed to 50 for range ammo. As an example…most 9mm defense rounds are selling for $1.20 a round, and range ammo around $0.40 a round. This number was generated for single box purchases, not buying in bulk. If someone has purchased a box of range ammo, a handgun, and a box of defense rounds, two things need to happen.
First is to learn whether their firearm is designed to handle the pressure the round is putting out. *Many defense rounds now are (+P)* Which basically means more pressure. It will say (+P) on the box or you can ask a sales associate. The manual that comes with your handgun will indicate which ammo is acceptable.
Second, at the very least the shooter needs to confirm that the defense rounds they purchased handle well and feed in their firearm.
Brands of Defense Rounds
Until Apostles Firearms Academy starts getting sponsored by G9 ammunition, we will not be recommending any brand. Obviously, I have a preference, but there are so many fantastic brands and I use most of them in a variety of my guns. Hornady has the most Police contracts in Texas, and most other states, and their wax tipped hollow points deserve an honorable mention. The truth is many factors restrict me from sticking to just one brand for every handgun and each different caliber. You may have a .40, 9mm, .380 Auto and/or a .45ACP, and each gun works better with a different brand. I can’t implore this enough… train with whatever ammunition you purchase so you know it goes bang, and you know how it feels when you are shooting it.