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PRACTICE OR Defense-Carry?

Except for precision rifle loads, I don’t separate cases by brand. Rather, I separate them into brass and nickel-plated cases. Generally, this is more for aesthetics than anything else, though it shows at a glance what category the round fits into.

Jacketed hollow point defense-carry bullets go into the nickel cases, while practice lead bullets are loaded in the brass. Far and away the most used JHP bullet I load is the Hornady XTP. Using manuals from Accurate Arms, Hornady and Lyman, I try to duplicate Hornady’s loaded factory ammunition as closely as possible.

With only a couple of exceptions, lead practice bullets are cast from wheel weight alloy using Lee Precision molds. I try to come as close as possible duplicating the perceived recoil of the duty loads. In hotter loads, like .357 Magnum, I use a gas-checked bullet to keep barrel leading to a minimum.I use Unique powder more than any other because it is, well, Unique. I use it almost exclusively in handguns. It can be used in shotshells and even some rifle cartridges with cast bullets.

When loading my defense-carry loads, I wanted a powder that measured very accurately from my powder measures and also had a low flash signature. The powder I chose was Accurate #5. There are powders with even less flash, such as Winchester’s Auto-Comp and Ramshot’s Silhouette, but I chose #5 because it is reasonably priced and widely available in my area without placing a special order.

A discussion of primers often results in a spirited debate among handloaders. Because one of the main reasons for reloading is to save money, for practice loads I use what I find on sale. For defense-carry loads, I stick with CCI primers. I have been reloading for many years and can’t remember ever having a bad CCI primer. They are very reliable and clean burning.

Avoid dies that seat and crimp in one step for auto-pistols. Pistols headspace on the case mouth. Crimping while you seat may displace material, especially lead, from the bullet in front of the case, resulting in a round that may not chamber. I use a separate factory taper crimp die (preferred) to seat the bullet, and then back off the seating stem and turn the seating die down until I have just removed the flare from seating the bullet.

Revolver rounds should be moderately crimped into the crimp groove on the bullet, so a bullet will not setback into the case (causing higher pressure) or jump forward of the cylinder and lock up the gun. The latter may be described as a true jam instead of a malfunction. It takes the gun entirely out of the fight.


For lead practice rounds, it is a common practice for me to bulk pack them in an MTM .30-caliber size ammo can. With a water-resistant “O” ring seal, the rounds will stay protected and reliable for a long time.

I take a bit more care with the defense-carryr rounds and place them in either 50- or 100-round MTM boxes made for the specific caliber. While unlikely if bulk packed, it is possible for a hollow point to become damaged, which may affect accuracy or performance. I then place the boxes into either a .30- or .50-caliber ammo box for weatherproof storage.


It wasn’t too long ago when Obama was elected—both the first and second times—that factory ammunition disappeared from dealers’ shelves. Now the socialists have taken off the proverbial gloves and are openly admitting they want to take away the guns and ammunition of law-abiding American citizens.

With a little time and effort, you don’t need to be caught short during the next event of panic buying for either defense or practice ammunition. Instead, prepare yourself now, stock up on your reloading supplies, and have the ability to defend yourself regardless of what comes down the proverbial political crap-shoot.

For more reading on the topic of being prepared, be sure to check out some of our other articles that will help you be prepared with the reloading supplies and skills you need. As always, be safe and have fun while doing it.