By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
People think and say some pretty dumb things about ammo on occasion. Sometimes it’s due to not understanding the way the real world works and sometimes it’s due to romantic notions about the prowess of handgun rounds. Sometimes it’s due to other reasons entirely.
While we’re on the topic, let’s discharge (ha!) some of the harebrained ideas that some folks have about ammunition.
First, complaining that a gun won’t run steel-case ammunition, though with a caveat that I’ll get to in a bit. In the broad strokes, it’s stupid to whine about it. Folks, there are plenty of brands of hardball that are cheap, widely available and cased in brass. Blazer brass is $10 for a box of 50 in 9x19mm at the store close to me; does it really matter for me to spend only $9 on Tul?
No, it doesn’t. Besides, most of that Surplus Ammunition For Make Benefit Of the Glorious Former Socialist Republics is dirtier than Congress anyhow.
Where I will grant some leeway is with 5.56 or 7.62x39mm. When you get into rifle ammo, saving a few bucks per box makes a big difference; I’ll give you that. But with handguns? Come on. Herters, UMC and Blazer brass are cheap.
On a related note, “a gun’s not reliable if it doesn’t run everything!” is a load of crap. If it won’t run hardly anything, sure. But if your gun doesn’t like, say, HST hollow points but feeds Gold Dots or Winchester PDX just fine – zip it. If you have a gun that will run a widely available and known effective defensive round, who cares?
Some of my cars over the years seemed to prefer Valvoline; the Toyota I owned preferred Castrol. A five-quart jug runs about the same, so who gives a rat’s behind?
Now onto ballistics.
Folks, the word has been out for some time. There is no such thing as “stopping power” in a handgun. Maybe – MAYBE – with a .454 Casull, .460 S&W or .500 S&W or something like that. But even the mighty .44 Magnum doesn’t stop criminals 100 percent of the time with the first shot. Newton covered this some time ago; action, equal and opposite and all that.
If you want stopping power, you need a gun that practically knocks you over when you shoot it because those are the laws of physics. The guns that do that are the big safari magnum rifles, which are A.) usually pretty darned expensive B.) so are the bullets and C.) aren’t fun to shoot unless you’re used to it.
Let us also reflect that .45 ACP is not the manstopper some folks like to think. First, it’s not that powerful; it’s just big. Most loads carry less than 400 ft-lbs of muzzle energy so get the heck out of my office. Second, let’s stop it with the “it lets in more air and blood loss and stuff!” bit. You see, tissue is elastic. The hole almost closes up after a gunshot wound. Unless you hit a major artery, blood loss will not be catastrophic.
Don’t get me wrong. .45 ACP is a great round and I shoot a good amount of it myself. It’s proven to work. But it’s not a one-shot-stopper. “But muh expansion!” you say? Only matters on paper.
Yes, increasing the diameter of an expanded hollow point does increase the wounding potential, but real-world results confirm over and over again that what matters is where or who the bullet hits, not how big it got. What stops hostile hairless chimps is usually the psychological shock of being shot. Breaking a few select bones can hamper ambulatory function (knees, pelvis or spine) and of course, one to the brain stem does the trick every time. Blood loss is rarely a factor in gun fights.
Oh, and everything I just said about .45 ACP? The same goes for 10mm. And .357 Magnum. And .357 Sig. And just about every other handgun round you can think of.
Now we come to novelty ammunition. Every couple of years, some new ammo design comes out of the woodwork claiming it’s the new tactical devastation. Tactical Steves go crazy, buying it for their carry gun, and carrying it while they wear their plate carrier vest in the car on the way to their office job selling insurance. Granted, they drive in a very tactical fashion.
Folks, incremental improvements happen, but nobody reinvents the wheel. Carry what you want, but don’t go drinking too much of the Kool Aid.
Rant over, now go have some fun at the range.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.