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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys;

I recently posted the results of some ammo test that I hosted at my shooting range and it was very well received. I thought I might share it with all of you who may be truly interested in all things self defense.
If this is not the place for my efforts, please feel free to move it or poof it and accept my humble apology. I will not be offended.

Questions concerning ammunition seems to be one of the favorite topics and this in particular I felt was important in the first place for its' topic and then because I have no dog in the hunt so to speak concerning trying to sell or recommend any specific manufacture of ammo.

Here it is.

A concern for me is the "muzzle flash" of specific, extra power ammunition normally selected for self defense use.
I am sure most of you have seen the cover of Maas Ayoob's book "In The Gravest Extreme". The muzzle flash I was concerned with and the reason I was prompted to perform these tests was spawned by that picture and what if any effect that would have on a shooter, (me) in low light conditions while striving to save my own life or that of my loved ones.
I am fortunate, I own an indoor range so I can establish any lighting condition that I need at any time of day or night for myself or for my students in the different courses we teach.
So my in-house gunsmith and I took the time and the ammo; Gold Dot, Golden Saber, XST, Cor Bon, Hydrashock, Silvertip, and Ranger.
We selected a five inch 1911 and a three inch and a Glock sub compact and standard and a 2 inch and a five inch barrel revolver for all tests.
Then we went into the range, turned out the lights and began testing this combination to see what if any muzzle flash exists and what if any consequence this would have on initial shots or follow-up shots in low light conditions. Remember the cover of the book. If you had a muzzle flash of that magnitude, you had damn well better hit your threat with the first shot as you are not going to get another for several seconds. At least not one that you can reliably identify your target.

No matter which ammo and gun combination we selected, not one of them made enough muzzle flash to blank out the night sights on our guns. Not one. In fact even the CorBon which is what Maas is shooting on the cover of that book did not have enough signature to capture it on the camera we were using. I did film this with my digital Nikon. Unfortunately, my hard drive crashed the other day and I have not been able to get any of my informaton from it yet. I have Data Dr. working to do so and they tell me they can find "shadows" whatever that is but have not been able to recoveer anything else yet. If I am ever abe to et his back, I will post the pictures here as I had hoped to do in the first place.
As to the outcome, as I said I was very impressed with the improvement in the powders being used for our self defense ammo. I now do not worry about muzzle flash from my short barreled pistols. Any of the top brand ammunition will function without causing sight problems for follow-up shots in lowlight.
The lowest flash was with the Gold Dot followed by Golden Saber and CorBon and then the Hydrashock. the brightest of all was the Silvertip and Ranger out of the 2" Smith. The brightest was as you might imagine out of the short barrel Sp101 using 158 Gr .357 Mag. But even those were not bad enough to cause any loss of night vision.
You and I can choose the manufacturer we want that functions the best in our particular pistol knowing that muzzle flash will not be a factor in the most horrific event of a human being can experience.
There are enough things to worry about, now we can put that item out of our mind in our selection process. At least I know it is no longer a concern of mine in my ammo selection.

I sincerely hope this has helped some of you who may have wondered about muzzle flash and its' possible impact on our survival. It was certainly interesting as well as fun to find out once and for all. It was also important to share this with as many as possible and this seemed like a very good place to get the information to the most people, easily. Many of yo have helped me in the past and shared your knowledge and information freely and openly with all of us. I learn something newnearly every day here on the forum so I thought I could return the favor in a small way.

Stay safe and take care. Be aware of your surroundings at all time and perhaps you will never have to worry about your ammo selection for anything other than the fun of plinking.

UncleFudd
 

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UF,

Thank you Again, for a another Great Post. This is very useful information.

As Always, Stay Safe.
 

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UncleFudd,

Thank you for that great post. It is posts like these that make me proud to be part of such a wonderful community.
 

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UncleFudd Sir,

I have Another Question if you dont mind.

What would be the best round for Personal Defense, and or Carry in the .40.cal. 135gr, 155gr, 165gr, or 180gr?

I Personally carry Federal Premium 40 S&W 165gr Hydra-Shok Personal Defense all the way around.

Then I practice with Factory Reloads. 180gr.

I carry a Springfield XD.40 4".

Now I just asked for the .40cal, but you could always throw in other calibers too...

Hope this is not to much to ask, if so Please forgive me.

Again, Thank you Very Much.

As Always, Stay Safe.
 

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UncleFudd,
Thanks for the post but I do have to add a couple of caveats to it.
First off, one should try whatever ammo they pick in low light conditions for themselves. Some people have different reactions to the various ammo and what appears fine to me may not be near as "friendly" to the next person and vice versa. I've seen this several times during night qualifications and can only surmise it has something to do with the individual's rods and cones or how the brain processes the information it receives.
Secondly, when one finds an ammo type they like, they should buy as much of that SAME LOT NUMBER as they can find. Over the years I have found that the manufacturers often change the components at various times. This may be to keep at a certain price point, they get a "deal" on a particular powder that will meet the ballistic requirements of a particular line, or any number of other reasons. I have seen this in the Cor-Bon lines a couple of times with a particular lot have a lot of flash (one time I had spots when shooting a 4" barreled 357 mag in full sunlight) and a different lot having a different result.
As always recommended, give any equipment you are going to trust your life to a thorough wringing out to make sure all will perform satisfactory. To do otherwise is kind of foolish.

xd.40,
I mostly carry the 165 gr Golden Sabres in my 40 S&W. I picked these due to their price and that they gave good results the times I've used them. I have also used the Speer Gold Dots in this weight with equal results. I feel this weight gives the best balance between penetration and expansion in this bore. The 180s can penetrate further as the lower velocity does not always create as much expansion as the 165s. At least comparing the two bullet weights in car struck deer I've shot this is what I have found. This is not a great comparison as a deer is thicker and tougher than the vast majority of people but if the 180s can over penetrate a deer on occasion, they will do so on a person more often.
I had some 180 gr Hornady XTPs that gave very good results on deer but they were a lot more expensive than the Golden Sabres so I passed on them when I replenished my supply.
The 155s I have limited experience with, most of my use has been with the green and yellow box Remington loads and I find them "snappier" than the heavier loads. That makes recovery a little tougher for follow up shots. I have only used them for practice but surprisingly I found them to be fairly comfortable to use in my Kel-Tek P-40; or maybe I should say not any worse than other makes. It is enough that I have considered using them as my carry load in that gun but reading some autopsy reports it seems the bullets used in many standard lines of ammunition have spotty records of expansion. The "premium" lines are much better it seems so I stick with them.
I have shot the Federal 135 gr Hydra-Shocks but found some guns to be fussy about feeding them, I think it has to do with the overall cartridge length and feel it is close enough to the tolerances that very minor changes in bullet shape, seating depth, or what have you might cause problems. Again, thorough testing should alleviate any concerns but that can get expensive if one is funding the testing themselves.
As for other calibers, I have been using the 230 gr bullets in the 45 ACP for a long time. Right now I'm carrying Golden Sabres but I have had good results with Hydra-Shocks and XTPs in the past. I thought highly of the Black Talons and find the Winchester Ranger line to incorporate the same bullet in a different "color". I do not use the 185 gr bullets very often, a previous gun did not like them much so I had a good stock of 230 gr bullets on hand when I changed makes and models. The 200 gr Speer bullet has a reputation of not functioning in all 45s but I had not experienced that myself in the limited use I've done with them.
In the 9mm I used 115 gr Federal 9B "Police" hollow points the most though the 124 gr Nyclad HPs were a close second. If the Nyclads would not have been discontinued, they would have been the runaway preference for me. I found them to expand very well in the 9mm which is something that was not always assured 20 years ago. I had a Kel-Tek 9mm for a year or so and carried the above loads in it as I had plenty on hand. Today, the officers I know who carry the 9mm use a variety of loads from Hornady, Speer, and Federal. Most are 115 and 124 gr though a couple of officers like the 147 gr bullets. I am not a fan of the latter weight though that may be a carry over to the poor performing bullets of the 1980s. Modern designs are supposedly better than the past but sacred cows don't die easy and mine are not ready to be turned into burger yet.
I will pass on revolver rounds as I seldom carry one anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
UglyDog;

I just read your post and felt I should respond if for no other reason than to make certain that you and everyone else be aware that I did not at any time recommend a particular brand or caliber or bullet weight during my post.

I made every attempt to make sure you all knew this was just a test of all the listed ammo and their affects on night vision. Nothing more.

Please re-read my second paragraph for clarification. If after reading this and the rest of the post you feel I have made a recommend of any kind I would apologize for having done so. It was not my intent nor was it the purpose of my performing my own tests. I thought I made it abundantly clear that I was curious about muzzle flash in general from the ammo and the short barreled firearms we choose for carry. That I posted the results merely to explain what I witnessed. I have been behind the muzzle of several shots that left me nearly blind from the flash. I saw the picture of Maas that I described and it has made me curious for several years. It is the one thing that finally drove me to get off my lazy buns to see if it was as bad as that with our most popular ammo.
Nothing more. I had fun doing it, was impressed with the results at that time and decided I would share those results with everyone. I certainly cannot, did not, nor would I make it a statistical fact that this ammo is all the same, will remain the same or that others may find something different if they choose to take the time and make the effort to perform their own tests.

I agree with you sir that all of us absolutely MUST know which ammo functions the best in our specific forearm. We MUST know as much as we possibly can which bullet design will or will not feed and function reliably EVERY shot from our firearm. Then too it seems it would be of utmost importance to know which gun, frame type and size and caliber we can handle with absolute certainty in every conceivable condition. Then pick the manufacture of ammo of your choice based upon this knowledge and experience. However I do believe my post contained worthwhile information, or I would not have taken my time and those of the members of this forum to write about it. For that, I make no apology whatsoever.

However as I said if I have in any way made someone think I am or have or will for that matter recommend a particular ammunition, then for that I apologize. I do/did not recommend any particular brand. When asked (nearly every day at the range) I tell the individual they might want to see what their local PD is using and try (try some of them to see if they work in their firearm as a place to start.

XD I will try to get back to your questions in the morning however I believe UglyDog has given some excellent information in his post. I will give my thoughts as did he based upon my own experience for what its' worth.

Tomorrow

UF
 

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UglyDog,

First off, Thank you very much for your own personal opinion on the different weights, manufactures, and calibers of ammo. I too carry the 165gr, but I carry the Federal Hydra-Shok Personal Defense ammo. I have always used the Federal brand, and like you said, if you find something you like, then stick with it, that is why I stay with the federals...

As far as UncleFudd's post goes, there should be no critiquing it here. He did and OUTSTANDING job giving "HIS" Personal Observation during the testing of the different manufactures and types of ammo for the "muzzle flash", at his OWN expense, although he had a good time doing it, still it was at his own expense. Thanks UncleFudd.

Also NOTE, this was only his Personal "OPINION"....No where does he state which brand to use, just his personal OBSERVATION of the muzzle flash, on which manufactures had less or more muzzle flash........Again, it was Very well written.

Just like when we Read an article from Guns and Ammo, Shooting times, or Tactical Response, or Whatever magazine we choose to read, it was just the Authors own personal experience, and that is what he did, was to give his own thoughts on it.

I Myself, (and I'm sure others out there too) Personally want to Thank you BOTH for all the Wealth of information you both give here on this website. We all appreciate it. Also, under NO circumstances, am I looking for an argument, I am just stating My own personal Observation here....So Please do not take this the wrong way. Thank you. :wink:

As always, Stay Safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
XD.40;

I appreciate your questions and hope I can rise to your expectations with any answer I may belch forth. I usually don't like to pontificate unless I am absolutely certain of my position. A very wise old man as it turns out (my dad and my grandpa) both told me long ago, "hush up son and listen, you cannot learn when your talking".
I have learned much from this and other forums as there seems to be a wealth of knowledge and experience lurking here.It also seems the one way to get those intelligent people to comment is to ask just as you have done for a "professional" opinion.
So I believe you and I will have some very learned input as a result of your question.

also please understand my answer is from personal experience, not necessarily from anything I have read or that may be of record. I get some of this from driving ambulance for three years after returning home from service in 66, from 7 years in LE, or from being at the right place at the wrong time. I have also had the opportunity to witness some autopsies and worked in the ER at a major hospital.

I will address the 40 cal based upon my own use in my Kimber, Glock and SA-XD.
As a long, long time 1911 45ACP user I have become favored of the heavy bullets and the power and damage they have and do. For a lot of years I used the 230s exclusively and believe they are ultimately the best for most auto-loading pistols of this caliber. Then several years ago I began loading and practicing with the 200 gr ball and liked the way my guns and I both handled this I started using them and have never looked back. I have never experienced a failure of any kind with any of my 45 auto pistols and I believe the bullet will do all it needs to do or is capable of doing if I do my part.
The 40 however has a lot of bullet weight options and as mentioned by UD in his last post, we need to consider what the bullet will do depending on weight and velocity. Even though I am a proponent of the "heavy" bullet, I am middle of the road now on the 40 as I am with my 45s. I all three models as listed, I use the 165 because; they are flawless in function in all of my pistols, the velocity to weight will give everything the bullet is capable of doing if it cuts meat, they are for me, more accurate than any of the other weight of 40 cals that I have tried. So my decision was fairly easy from those standpoints.
BTW, I found the accuracy improvement the same for me when I changed from 180s in the 40 to 165 and the 200s in 45ACP from the 230s. I have no answer for why, just that it did and not just a little bit either. It was a very marked improvement for me. I suspect this may have something to do with the reduction in recoil, whether actual or perceived, real nonetheless.

I had reasons for my "heavy" bullet theory after witnessing the autopsy of a VERY large former biker. This guy decided to stand in front of a police officers 870 and the slug issued by same. It was only one shot in the sternum but the damage was incredible. I also saw the same or near same from an old 1911 pistol issuing 230 gr. Win to the left side of his chest from quartering lt. to rt. The damage was again just mind boggling.
So for years I was convinced that the heavier the better. However over time and after seeing many other fatal or near fatal wounds from lighter bullets, I decided the best possible round is first and foremost the one that my gun likes, then one that I can handle accurately every single shot and then the weight v velocity.

I have recently had to change to the 9MM due to my hands and shoulder becoming very recoil sensitive. With this one I am staying with the heavy with all the velocity I can get which normally turns out to be the Corbon ammo.

Marty, I believe it comes to personal preference if you have made certain your gun functions flawlessly with a particular bullet design. Top of the line ammo makers have done made wonderful improvements on their pistol ammo in particular in just the past 10 years. I pointed out the difference in their powder and the resulting muzzle flash. I am no longer worried about it. Along with the improvements comes higher than ever velocities and incredible bullet designs. These are what will make our choices much easier in the end. Knowing this, I am comfortable believing that whatever weight I decide upon, it will do whatever I need when the flag goes up IF, I do MY part.
My concentration is now on shooting a lot so that I become accurate at any fighting distance and under every possible or impossible condition. I have stressed the importance of training and making your training as realistic as possible by introducing difficult scenarios. This will be IMHO far more critical than our selection of particular bullets, (within reason and staying with known brands with successful records).
In my experience too many people are convinced that their situaton will find them standing erect in the middle of their front room with the lights on, plenty of room to work and time to properly aim their guns and demand the bad guy leave immediately or I'll shoot situation.
My studies of the "majority" of self defense situations are nothing like what i have described and people really need to wake up and make any training they participate in real, right now.
In fact if the norm occurs, they will probably be very severly injured and may in fact not survive. This may have also include other(s) in your home and you are defending them as well. You will already have been knocked or fallen to the ground/floor, been kicked, beaten, stabbed or cut badly, and shot. Remember, there has to be a reason you are taking this threat under fire in the first place. Also it seems an inordinate amount of these attacks take place in low light conditions, (the reason for my concern about muzzle flash). It means we are under terrible conditions BEFORE we ever get a chance to fight back.
It is under these kinds of circumstances we have to be accurate. We owe it to ourselves and to the public to hit only the bad guy. We do not have justification ever to hit an innocent bystander. And wouldn't it be terrible with everything else you are going to be faced with to hit one of our own loved ones while trying to stp out attacker?

Find one you and your gun like, get to be the absolute best with it you can possibly be and the bullets will do what they are supposed to do for the rest.

hope this has been of some import.

Take care my friend and stay safe always.

UF
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
XD40 and others.

I should have prefaced my last post having to do with pistol ammo.

I am sure that everyone knows or realizes that pistol ammo regardless of caliber is anemic at best when it comes to man stopping. Everyone has heard the horror stories about those individuals who just refuse to be put down no matter how many times they are hit or what they are hit with.
So please keep in mind at all times you are not entering a fight with all odds in your favor if all you have is a pistol.

With this understanding, read and consider the info in my previous post.

UncleFudd
 

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UncleFudd,

Thank you again for the Post. I really appreciate all the vast amount of Experience and Knowledge you have put forth in your post. I am sure that others do too.
I can see that we all (each and every one of us out there) have our own Personal "Favorite" Type of ammo that we choose, and all for different reasons. I think that you, UD, and myself all agree on using the middle weight as far as an all around ammo goes, for one reason or another.

Thank you Both for your input on this discussion. :wink:

Oh yah, One MORE question..... LOL.... Na, just Kidding.... LOL..... :lol: :lol: :lol:

Take Care, and as Always, Stay Safe.


XD.40
 

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UncleFudd,
Sorry my post was taken the wrong way, I meant it as an addendum or appendix to your post with the caveat meant for those who may have taken your post as decisive rather than informational and do not realize that the ammunition sold today under a certain name is not necessarily the same as that manufactured earlier or in the future.
I agree that the ammunitions promoted for self defense today are, as a whole, very low flash in low light conditions. There has been a lot of research and development into powder coatings and compositions to alleviate this concern and the ammunitions manufacturers have to be commended on their efforts. This is an ongoing process covering all aspects of ammunition components and as in every engineering feat, there are some that look good on paper but do not pan out on the street. A couple versions of the Silvertip bullet comes to mind, one of which worked out favorably for me.
The problem, as I see it, is when people unknowingly buy an older version of a current load and don't realize the results could be very different than thought. As I mentioned, I have seen great variations in Cor-Bon ammunition over the years as I believe to get the highest velocities they often used the same powder in their early self defense loads as in their hunting loads where muzzle flash is not as big of a concern. With the relatively slow sales of Cor-Bon defensive loads (at least locally for me) there is still a lot of old stock on store shelves which may give an unsuspecting person a big surprise. I am not trying to put down Cor-Bon as I do believe they have a good product but only use them to illustrate that design parameters can change and they have had the greatest amount of change in a short time that I have experienced. If a deputy or officer in our jurisdiction wished to carry a 44 Special or 45 Colt revolver, I would recommend Cor-Bon as their carry loads.
A secondary concern is those who "go cheap" on their defensive ammunition and buy a lower tier line. Some of these are nearly as good as the upper tiers as far as flash but many are substantially worse. This can also change even more between lots as these lines are produced to a price point to varying degrees and components can change accordingly.
Again, I hope this is taken as secondary information to previous posts and not an attack or disagreement with the findings.

Back to bullet weights, I am kind of a "middle of the road" guy in not only handgun but also rifle and shotgun loads. I kind of have the gut feeling that the two extremes are kind of asking the cartridge to do something it was not necessarily designed for. I do modify my opinion in a couple of circumstances. When it comes to slower moving bullets, for those I feel a heavier than "normal" bullet is more effective. The 45 ACP is one of these and I have gotten satisfactory results with the 230 gr bullets all the way out to 100 yards. As I mentioned before, I have limited experience with the 185 gr bullets as my primary gun at the time (a double stacked Springfield Ultra Carry) did not function reliably with them and not much better with any of the 200 gr bullets. The latter I will be getting more familiar with in the future as I have several thousand of them on hand as components.
The other place I feel "heavier is better" is in smaller diameters where bullet weights are less. This to me starts around 38/9mm class and on down.
I have to cut this short, thankfully, the wife needs to get on for work. What pays the bills is a priority, especially if it isn't me having to do the work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks UD for the clarification and further comments.
It is how we learn and I do not disagree. In fact it appears we agree far more than not on these and other issues in the past.

It is as said the more reason to know your equipment and how it functions.

Even the ammo is critical making certain it will work in your gun. I am not a big proponent of bullet weight as opposed to function.
I do believe pistol ammo is as I said anemic at best. It may do the job if we are lucky enough to make a good hit and the person is not so determined or drugged to fight through it.

I jonestly believe we put too muc importance on huge calibers of handguns when a 22 may be all that is needed and perhaps more fitting to the particular individual. If it is the only gun a person can handle with absolute certainty, then use it and do not apologize for it.
It is a known fact that more animals and humans havebeen killed with them than any two other calibers combined so I do not sell it short.

However having survived a very horrific incident, when and if it ever happens again, God Forbid. I want to have the biggest and baddest gun there is if all else fails. It simply cannot be too big under those circumstances. But again I hit what I was made to shoot at with a tremendous amount of luck and I can relate in many ways why some of these things are so critical.

Enough of this, I appreciate your setting the record straight and I am sorry that I was confused. It happens a lot with age I guess.

Take care all and stay safe, always.

UF
 
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