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Reloading Ammo For Self Reliance

PRACTICE OR Defense-Carry?

For years, many people have said it is unwise to carry handloaded ammo for defensive purposes. This is based on two elements, both of which I believe are mostly myths.

The first point of contention is that hand loaded (reloaded) ammunition is unreliable. These would go so far as to practically condemn anyone who uses handloads for self-defense. IN actuality, I have had just as many factory loads fail on me as I have reloads, to there really isn’t a comparison.

Also, let me say that you may trust your loads, and I may trust mine, but until proven, we should not trust each other’s. As long as cartridges are loaded properly, following a manufacturer’s manual or another trusted source, and stored properly, reloads are every bit as reliable as factory ammo. Yet, unless you sat at his or her loading bench and watched them as they reloaded, you have no idea if their process is safe or if they are producing reliable loads. That’s why I only ever shoot my own reloads.

I also only shoot mine because I know how reliable my work has been. I recently went to the range with some .45 ACP reloads. According to the data sheet that I include with every batch of reloads, they were loaded in June 2004. The loads were accurate and every single round fed, extracted, and ejected as if they had been loaded yesterday.

The second element some people pontificate about is that if the loads are ever used in a self-defense shooting, you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit. I have investigated this and, while it’s possible I missed one, I have never found a single incident that supports this theory. Often times, lawsuits involving self-defense shootings are looking at the merits of the shooting and not the bullet fired.

I’ve spoken with many law enforcement officers and have asked several if they had ever questioned a suspect if they had used hand-loaded ammo; they had never. In fact, they agreed that they had never heard of a time where that information would have been relevant to the case. Taking it a step further, many officers are not “gun people,” and it is extremely unlikely it would occur to them to ask if reloaded ammo was used.

If this truly concerns you, inquire around to what the officers in your area carry. For example, if they carry a 124-grain 9mm jacketed hollow point (JHP), load a 124-grain JHP, being sure to keep the loads around factory velocity specifications.

In my experience, “hot” loads use more powder, resulting in an increase in muzzle flash and recoil, and often degrade accuracy while offering little increase in downrange performance.

I want to take a moment and address a pet-peeve of mine while regarding lawsuits and self-defense shootings. More important than the load you carry is your level of training with your firearm. Having a gun on your side doesn’t make you a good shooter any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. Any shooter needs to spend ample time training with their firearms, and this means more than just shooting it.

I remember spending hours in front of the mirror working on my quick draw, honing my muscles to know exactly what to reach for and how far I had to pull the gun from the holster before starting to get on target. This may sound silly but you will be thankful you did this if you ever find yourself in a defense shooting situation.

In part two, we will look at actually reloading practice or self-defense ammo.