Range vs. Defense Ammo

Reviews and discussion of handgun ammo.

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spaceUnicorn
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Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by spaceUnicorn »

Looking for some help with ammo selection. I am trying to find the best ammo for the range (i.e. cheaper), versus what I would keep for home defense. This would include 22LR and 9mm pistols.

From the research I've done, it seems the +P 9mm JHP might be the best for defense, and maybe just regular FMJ for range? I'm just having trouble figuring out which brands/grain is best?

On the 22LR, doesn't seem to matter as much, and I know it's certainly not the best caliber for primary defense (just cheaper to practice at the range), but all the same, just trying to find the best for each use.

I've read that one should practice with the same ammo that would be generally loaded for defense. That makes sense, but with the scarcity and cost of ammo, I was just trying to think if there was an economic/availability advantage. Just curious how everyone views the idea? Thanks!!!

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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by kronkmusic »

For 9mm range ammo, I just buy whatever's the cheapest brass cased FMJ I can find at any given time. I prefer 124gr and I prefer certain brands, but they're all pretty equal, I'm not a serious competition shooter so I don't think on the finer points too much.

For 9mm defensive ammo, I like the Federal HST in 124gr or Speer Gold Dot in 124gr. Both test exceptionally well in ballistics gel and deal with heavy clothing well. I don't do the +P simply because there are standard pressure loads that test just as well if not better, so no reason to beat my guns up any more than necessary.

Training with your JHP defensive ammo gets prohibitively expensive real quick, hence the cheap(er) FMJ ammo for the range. It's important to make sure your defensive ammo runs reliably in your gun, so definitely run at least a box through it, and I like to do a magazine or two every few range trips just to remember the recoil impulse, which is slightly different than your JHP. It's not that different, but it's different enough that it's good to be reminded from time to time.

For 22lr, although it's better than nothing and can be quite effective with the right shot placement, in general it's not many people's first choice for self defense. But again, I'd rather have a 22lr handgun than a pointy stick when push comes to shove. As far as ammo, run a bunch of different types through it and whichever one runs the most reliably, use that one. Every semi-auto 22lr is going to prefer different ammo, and some are definitely pickier than others.



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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by Stiff »

You can’t go wrong with Federal HST for defense ammo, I still have several boxes of them.

My carry ammo today is 9mm +P 65 grain Xtreme Defender, clocked at 1800 fps from a 4” barrel. It’s light, so 11 of them in a SIG P365 are barely noticeable. The fully loaded gun doesn’t even sag my pants.

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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by Bisbee »

There is no real defensive load for 22lr but it’s probably better to have your magazine loaded with good CCI or Blazer ammo when you store it for defense purposes.

115gr is cheapest and most common 9mm range ammo. Consider American made steel or aluminum cased ammo if you really want to stretch your money. Avoid Russian made steel cases ammo not because of the casing as much as the jacket of the bullets are copper washed mild steel versus true copper or brass jackets that most other parts of the world uses. You can wear out your barrel lands quicker shooting Russian ammo. Yeah, I know that takes tens of thousands of rounds but still...

You may consider to do your last magazine full or few shots at the range shooting your defensive ammo. Not only will you ensure reliable cycling of that ammo through your gun, it also introduces the possibly different feel of a more powerful round and resets the muscle memory for that round before you leave the range.

Also be happy when your auto-loader unexpectedly jams at the range. Try to see it as an opportunity to smoothly and quickly hand-cycle the action and or get your gun running again. This is actual defensive shooting practice that some people introduce by loading a dummy round or two randomly into the magazine. Builds muscle memory which takes over in an actual stressful situation.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by Bucolic »

I have not shot them out of a .22 LR handgun, but CCI Velocitors work well for varmint mitigation out of a rifle. They are alleged to deliver 30% more energy than high velocity rounds - 1435 FPS muzzle velocity, 40 grains. You won’t get that speed out of a short barrel. They do shoot flatter than, e.g., Minimags. Also, they are hollow points.

Avoid the temptation of CCI Stingers. They look really hot but their cases are over long and they can fail if shot out of a gun with a tight chamber.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by sig230 »

Some basics.

Whatever you decide on as your defensive ammo needs to be used in practice enough to make sure it feeds, fires and extracts reliable in the gun you will use for protection. But you don't have to shoot large quantities of that; shoot enough to know that it works in the gun and all magazines you will use.

22LR pistols can be very ammo sensitive. Rifles slightly less sensitive and 22LR revolvers generally eat anything you feed them.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by CDFingers »

Yes: least expensive 115gr range ammo will be aluminum. If your defense ammo is the same weight and velocity as your range ammo neither you nor your pistol will know the diff. So basically you shoot then replace one box of 20 per year of defense ammo to see if they still feed, and you practice with aluminums. Just so long as the two are the same weight and velocity, they will feel the same to you and your pistol.

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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by rolandson »

I practice with whatever brass cased factory load FMJ is on the shelf at the range I use. The range won't permit steel or aluminum cased because of the wear it causes to their rentals.

My defensive rounds are Jacketed Rubber. I'm not a cop. I don't have the indemnity they do, should I send off a flyer, bounce off a button, or manage a through and through. So I choose to minimize that risk. Given the statistical nature of defensive encounters (sudden, very close, extremely quick), the differences in mass and whatever are irrelevant...at three to six feet it simply won't make any difference.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by Rust »

I just looked at MidwayUSA. They have Blazer Brass 147 gr fmj in stock at 26 cents a round, and Hornady 147 gr jhp at 80 cents a round. If I needed 9mm ammo this week, I might go that way.

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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by YankeeTarheel »

Bud's is gouging. I just paid $80 for 200 loose rounds of 115gr FMJ 9mm. They are pretty much out of most 9mm Luger.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by senorgrand »

I would use whatever you can find at this point. Most pistols will shoot 115 and 124 the same. I would try a box of 148 before stocking-up -- some pistols just don't like the stuff. If you can get your range and practice ammo in the same grains, you should be good to go. For range ammo, I've been very happy with the price/performance of Federal. It tends to run a little hot, which is good. Remington is also good, especially if you want to collect the brass.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by senorgrand »

Oh, and I had terrible experience with hard primers in Sig's ammo. The only time I have had light strikes in my revolver was with Sig Sauer ammo...
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by Deep13 »

Range: as others have said, whatever is cheap. My preference is American Eagle, but it usually costs more than some others.

Home defense: Hornady Critical Defense 9mm. It's designed not to over-penetrate.
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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by Rossifan1782 »

Just a suggestion make sure to check your state's restrictions as well as your local ranges restrictions regarding ammo. Here in NJ for example my state allows hollow points only in the home and at the range. You can get into trouble carrying jhp if you are not either on your way to the range or headed home. Also my local range doesn't allow birdshot, steel core or bimetal jacked.

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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by TxChinaman »

Bisbee wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 3:23 am

Also be happy when your auto-loader unexpectedly jams at the range. Try to see it as an opportunity to smoothly and quickly hand-cycle the action and or get your gun running again. This is actual defensive shooting practice that some people introduce by loading a dummy round or two randomly into the magazine. Builds muscle memory which takes over in an actual stressful situation.
Most of my carry pistols are so reliable it's almost boring. But when a malfunction does arise, I clear it as quickly as possible and immediately send several rounds back on target. Good practice as you say. I see too many folks at the range who immediately freeze up with a mystified look on their face when the gun doesn't go bang.

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Re: Range vs. Defense Ammo

Post by NuJudge »

Particularly in .22 rimfire, target ammo will be much more accurate than the generic high speed, but the lower velocity target ammo will generally be more expensive.

Most .22 semiauto pistols are set up for high speed, and will not be reliable with standard velocity target ammo.

I have very strong views on .22 rimfire for specific purposes. For standard velocity .22 LR where accuracy is important, but not critical, I like CCI Standard Velocity. For Standard velocity where accuracy is really important, I like SK Standard Plus, which used to be also sold by Wolf as Match Target. For High Velocity, where I have to have the extra "Oomph" to cycle a semiauto that demands it, I like Federal Automatch.

Be aware, so firearms are not heavily built, and can take Standard Velocity, but not High Speed. I am told my High Standard Supermatic's frame will crack if I use High Speed in it.

Centerfire pistol ammo is even more varied. The cheapest will probably be reloads, probably followed closely by imported steel case. Lead bullets are cheapest, followed by full metal jacket. Semi auto pistols sometimes have problems feeding anything but FMJ. Some hollow points expand on impact, but some are unreliable, and some don't seem to ever. Testing and development to get reliable expansion costs a lot. About the only relatively cheap, reliable hollow point ammo will be Lead bullet .38 Special.

Remember, reliability most important in self defense.

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