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Hey guys,

I'm a total newbie, both to this forum and to gun ownership generally, so forgive me if this is a dumb question.

It seems like there's a lot of back-and-forth online about self-defense ammo vs. practice ammo, with lots of people saying they practice with something cheap like PMC in FMJ, only shooting a magazine or so of their higher-quality, usually hollow-point, self-defense rounds every once in a while. Others seem to think this is a waste (shooting your SD rounds at all, since there's really no difference), and still others seem to kinda scoff at the idea of having two different kinds of ammo in the first place.

What do people on here think?

Thanks for your help and advice!

Jon
 

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General consensus is that wasting expensive defensive ammo for practice is a waste of cash. Defensive ammo is typically 2-3 times as expensive, sometimes more.

For practice, use target ammo, so that you can practice in volume, since your body will revert to your practice/training in a stressful situation. More reps, more muscle memory, etc...

That said, you should shoot at least a few magazines of your carry ammo through your gun for two reasons... 1) Assure that it feeds and functions well. (M&Ps typically feed and shoot anything, they're not particularly sensitive) and, 2) To assure that your point of impact with your defensive ammo is close to your point of impact for practice ammo. If you shoot 115gr 9mm practice ammo, and carry 147gr defensive ammo, typically the 147gr rounds will impact 2-3" higher than the 115gr rounds in the same gun out at 25 yards. I'm not suggesting you attempt a hostage-head-shot at 25 yards as a pistol newbie... but just having confidence in your ammo goes a long way when it comes time to use it.

JeffWard
 

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I only fire JHP for function test, and load my pistol with that when it is on operational status.

For training only, there is no point in using more expensive JHP.

However, you need to be sure that the training ammunition's ballistics are similar to the one you use for combat.

Foe example, I no longer buy PMC ammunition in 40S&W because it is seriously underpowered and does not create the similar level of recoil to my Winchster Ranger or Speer GDHP.
 

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Some of us practice with no ammo at all more than with ammo, it's called dry fire practice. If done safely it can benefit shooters of any proficiency, granted it does not simulate live fire, but one can develop or refine skills cheaply from the comfort of their own home. The M&P can be dry fired without the need for snap caps or dummy rounds, but they are nice to have for performing various drills.
 

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The number one attribute in a self defense gun, home defense, carry, etc., is reliability. A major component of reliability is the ammo you use.

For range use cheap FMJ ammo is fine. If you have a failure with it that's a minor problem. A failure with SD ammo could be fatal. For you.

You want hollow point ammo for SD because it will create a larger wound channel and is less likely to pass through the guy you wanted to shoot and hit someone you didn't want to shoot.

You need to be confident that the SD ammo you choose works in your gun.

Here's what I do before I carry a gun or use it for home defense.

Go to the range. Shoot 200 rounds of whatever range ammo you choose. Then shoot 50 rounds of the SD ammo you intend to use. One range session, no cleaning or lubing during the session. If my gun and ammo get through this with no failures I feel confident enough to carry the gun or use it for home defense. If not, try to determine why not. Was it the ammo? An extractor or ejector problem? Or do you néed a different gun. I repeat this routine every few months because things can change. In between range sessions are with whatever FMJ ammo I can get at a good price.
 

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You might want to compare your point of impact vs. point of aim, as well as felt recoil, between your defense ammo and practice ammo.

I've found that in both my FS M&P40 and Shield 40 hit in slightly different places when comparing 180gr and 165gr FMJ, but the FMJ 165gr and JHP 165gr defense rounds are very close to each other.

So while I do most of my practice with the 180gr since I was able to find a lot more of it relatively cheaply, I also practice with the 165gr FMJ, and only rarely fire the ridiculously expensive 165gr JHP defense loads.
 

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I'm a firm believer in using similar ammo for practice as you intend to carry. Where as I carry 180gr Ranger-T's, so I practice with 180gr FMJ.

I'm also a believer that you should practice with your carry round every now and then, just so you know how it handles both in recoil and accuracy.

An example is an acquaintance I go to the range with from time to time. He carries a 9mm, and always practices with whatever cheap range ammo he can get his hands on regardless of the weight of the round. Yet he chooses to carry super hot Buffalo Bore ammo. He's one who trains for "two in the chest, one in the head," and has it down to a science... with el cheapo practice ammo. One day I asked him if the time ever came, while under stress if he thought he would be able to pull off his tactic with his carry ammo. He of course said he could. So I challenged him to do it.

First shot with the Buffalo Bore was center of mass. The the follow up shot was way off, and his "head shot" didn't even touch paper.

Always know the ammo you carry.
 

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Some of us practice with no ammo at all more than with ammo, it's called dry fire practice. If done safely it can benefit shooters of any proficiency, granted it does not simulate live fire, but one can develop or refine skills cheaply from the comfort of their own home. The M&P can be dry fired without the need for snap caps or dummy rounds, but they are nice to have for performing various drills.
Agreed. I dry fire, with snap caps, hundreds of "rounds" per week. When I shoot live ammo it is fmj at the range except when I cycle my carry ammo which is every six months.
 

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I shoot a magazine of whatever SD ammo I buy to check for compatibility with the firearm. I then shoot FMJ practice ammo and fire the SD round I carried in the chamber since my last range visit. I'll fire three or so SD rounds every couple of visits just to check POI and if I can tell any significant difference in handling (normally I can't). This cycles my SD ammo gradually. Yep, lots of dry fire to for trigger control, pistol draw, and how fast I can put sights on target.

I can hear the groans already, but... I load FMJ on the bottom of the mag and stack six SD rounds on top. The FMJ are to cover my retreat.
 

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I'm a firm believer in using similar ammo for practice as you intend to carry. Where as I carry 180gr Ranger-T's, so I practice with 180gr FMJ.

I'm also a believer that you should practice with your carry round every now and then, just so you know how it handles both in recoil and accuracy.

An example is an acquaintance I go to the range with from time to time. He carries a 9mm, and always practices with whatever cheap range ammo he can get his hands on regardless of the weight of the round. Yet he chooses to carry super hot Buffalo Bore ammo. He's one who trains for "two in the chest, one in the head," and has it down to a science... with el cheapo practice ammo. One day I asked him if the time ever came, while under stress if he thought he would be able to pull off his tactic with his carry ammo. He of course said he could. So I challenged him to do it.

First shot with the Buffalo Bore was center of mass. The the follow up shot was way off, and his "head shot" didn't even touch paper.

Always know the ammo you carry.
By "super hot" Buffalo Bore I assume you mean their +p+ offerings. I agree if your going to carry that you should practice with it pretty extensively.
 

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I'd recommend using the same bullet weight for practice and for self defense. That way the point of impact and the recoil will be the similar. Full metal jacket for practice and hollow point for self defense.
When I'm at the range I shoot as much FMJ as I want and then I finish with one magazine of HP. That way I get lots of practice with the less expensive ammo but have the reassurance that my home defense ammo works.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks!

Thanks for all the thoughts, guys! I've always shot 115 or 124 at the range in the past. It seems like most of you guys shoot something higher-powered. Is there a reason to do that other than wanting to be increase accuracy at higher distances? I figure I won't ever be using it from a distance of more than 25 feet, and I'd rather minimize recoil.
 

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Thanks for all the thoughts, guys! I've always shot 115 or 124 at the range in the past. It seems like most of you guys shoot something higher-powered. Is there a reason to do that other than wanting to be increase accuracy at higher distances? I figure I won't ever be using it from a distance of more than 25 feet, and I'd rather minimize recoil.

The theory behind the newer "high velocity" rounds be it hollow points or the fragmenting stuff like Liberty puts out, is the usually lighter bullet at high speed is supposed to create more tissue damage/cavitation in the first few inches when it creates the wound channel by expending all it's energy when it enters the target. They're also in theory supposed to prevent over penetration.

At least that's what I've surmised from all the videos and info I've read on the numerous new wonder bullets on the market. I'm sure others with better ballistic knowledge than I can weigh in on the subject.

I stick with traditional hollow points, usually Winchester Ranger-T or PDX1, though I'm looking to give the HST's a try once I can find some at a reasonable price.
 

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"I'm looking to give the HST's a try once I can find some at a reasonable price." The HST's are a great SD round, but you will have to pay a pretty penny for them. I'll use Federal's American Eagle for shooting at paper and the HST's for SD.---EZRider
 

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There's a post on a another forum with cumulative information on best SD rounds by caliber. I begin and end my range sessions with SD rounds for all the reasons stated by previous posters.
 
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