Firearms and ammo go hand-in-hand. One does not work without the other. So, when you purchase your firearm, it is very important to read the user manual to determine which kind of ammo your firearm can handle! For example, an older S&W .38 Special revolver can NOT handle +P+ ammunition! Not knowing this will not only damage your firearm, but could cause serious injury to you!
After determining what kind of ammo your firearm can handle, we will simplify things by next focusing on range ammo, hollow point ammo, shotgun ammo, and rifle ammo.
Range ammo is any ammo that is NOT hollow point and cheap! Keep in mind that you will be shooting this ammo 99% of the time at the gun range to improve your shooting skills without hurting your wallet! Where can you find cheap range ammo? Wal-Mart! Don’t like Wal-Mart? Shop online for the best deals like bulkammo.com, but expect high shipping costs!
Let us break down what we see on the gun box(s) from the picture taken above:
Federal Ammunition– company that makes the ammo
9mm Luger– size of ammo
115 Grain – weight of the bullet. (higher the grain number, heavier the bullet)
FMJ – Full Metal Jacket
RN – Round Nose
Aluminum Case – Casing that holds the bullet, powder, and primer all together. (In this instants, it is made out of aluminum!)
$9.97 – Cost for 50 bullets. (That is close to 0.20 cents a bullet!)
$19.44 – Cost for 100 bullets.
Hollow Point Ammo
The image above displays fragmentation (in ballistic gelatin) of a hollow point 9mm bullet.
The key to self-defense ammo is fragmentation. This means when the bullet makes contact with the “bad guy”, the bullet breaks into smaller pieces inside the target causing additional wounds. Luckily, there is a name for this bullet that fragments, and they are called hollow points. Here is an example of a box of hollow points from Speer Gold-Dot.
We highly recommend you try different brands of hollow point ammunition at the gun range until you find a brand that you feel comfortable working with. Not all ammo is treated equally and you may one day depend on this ammo to save your life! Also, if you are a new shooter and/or had little range time with your firearm, use range ammo first to build your skills up beforehand. No point wasting money on expensive hollow point ammo if your grouping shots are all over the place.
Once you feel comfortable with the hollow point ammo, keep your firearm loaded and the rest of the ammo, away in a temperature controlled location. Extreme heat and moister can ruin your ammo’s shelf life! Also, if you have kids, lock your ammo away! You don’t want them swallowing ammo or taking them for show-and-tell at school!
Shotguns don’t have hollow points, but the great thing about shotguns, is that they can take many different kinds of ammo! This makes the shotgun very versatile in your arsenal. Choosing the right shells for your shotgun can be tricky, so we will help you by first focusing on three major factors:
- Penetration -hit vital organs to stop threat
After considering these three factors, we at Quinndefense have narrowed down the three best shotgun shells for your self defense needs. These shells include bird-shot, buckshot and slugs. Bird-shot and buckshot shells fire small metal pellets. Where as slug shells fire a single ounce of metal.
Bird-shot was designed to hunt small game that moves very fast (like rabbits and birds) while at the same time, not destroying the meat due to over-penetration. What makes bird-shot are these tiny metal pellets (~75 pellets) inside the shotgun shell. Since there are so many pellets, “point and shoot” aiming is very forgiving. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these images below:
It is safe to say that bird-shot offers a high enough spread to hit any threat coming toward you from 10ft to 30ft. However, past 30ft, you will not notice any large holes in the targets. This is because the pellets are spread out so wide, that they offer little penetration. If you are worried about over-penetration in general, then bird-shot should be your pick.
Pros: Maximum Spread
Cons: Low Penetration past 20 ft
Similar to the bird-shot, buckshot has pellets (~8 pellets) but are much larger in size. They are designed for bigger game such as deer, so the larger pellets are necessary in bringing them down. Unlike bird-shot, buckshot will leave big holes inside the threat even at 30ft!
Pros: Higher Penetration
Cons: Lower Spread vs Bird-shot
Slugs were designed to improve accuracy, range, and stopping power while avoiding stray pellets. For self defense purposes, slugs should NOT be your #1 choice for all situations and should be considered as a last resort. If you have to make an accurate shot and are worried about stray pellets (e.g. head shot in hostage situation), then slugs are your best choice. If you have to shoot a threat that is heavily armored or hiding behind something thick enough to stop even buckshot, slugs are your best choice. If you must stop a threat at a distance of 55ft or more, slugs are your best choice. Those are the only reasons you should ever consider using slugs for defensive purposes.
Pros: Maximum Penetration, Maximum Distance
Cons: Over-penetration, No Spread
For home defense, you will want to focus only hollow point (HP). The reasons for this are already mentioned in the “hollow point ammo” section of this page.
Unsure where to begin shopping for ammo? Try some of these online vendors listed below. Remember to focus only on hollow point (HP) for self defense purposes only! For range ammo, try to find the cheapest ammo you can.