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
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