A lot of money goes into advertising ammunition. Shiny packaging and fascinating photos always tell us how THIS round is far superior to that other round. The manufacturers are after all trying to get you to pay four times or more what you would for regular ball ammunition. The real pinch is that in all likelihood if you’re considering a specialty ammunition it’s because you’ve thought about what could happen if you had to fire a round in defense. You WILL be held responsible for that round and everything in its path from the end of your gun to its final resting spot. If you’re like me you’re probably thinking that the shorter that distance is the less likely you are to harm an innocent bystander or loved one be they in the next room or even outside the house. The goal is to have a round damaging enough to stop the threat, but not so powerful that it harms five other people.
One of my top concerns when I first started keeping a loaded gun in the house was what happens if there’s someone in the next room, or behind the bad guy? This lead me to buy some very expensive ammunition that made all kinds of promises. I forget the manufacturer, but the packaging was obnoxious and it claimed their little 85gr or so .45 ACP round broke Mach 2 out of a 1911. After a few months I ended up just blowing the rounds off plinking because I wasn’t quite comfortable with them.
Fast-forward a few years and I’ve put aside the single-stack 1911 for something with more capacity and less expensive to feed. Because I shoot 9mm more often I also use 9mm for the house. This of course meant re-evaluating what would be in the house gun. Those years we fast-forwarded also expanded the ammunition market and the list of options for specialty ammo has grown significantly. To make a more informed decision we decided to test a few options. With prices ranging from $18 for 50 rounds to $30 for 20, testing multiple loads side-by-side meant saving up for a while, as did purchasing ballistics gelatin.
We collected up examples from Allegiance, Barnes, Federal, Hornady, Magtech, PMC, Team Never Quit, and Winchester ranging from rather exotic to standard hollow points and then tossed in some Remington 115gr and Geco 124gr ball to serve as a control. In all, the load weight ranged from 70gr to 147gr. We sought out frangible ammunition to see how it performs and gave it it’s own separate testing by constructing an interior housing wall of drywall and insulation as well as an exterior wall with the added exterior foam and siding layers. All rounds were tested for cycling and “shoot-ability” in a short-barreled Walther PPS and Duty-sized Walther P99AS. As we suspected quite a few of the lighter bullets, despite their increased velocity simply didn’t have enough oomph to cycle the PPS. This was a disturbing outcome as many manufacturers either directly target the sub-compact market or hint that their hot rounds help compensate for shorter barrel length. I think there’s simply only so much powder that can be burnt while a bullet travels down the barrel and we saw many of the hotter rounds simply make a blinding flash as combustion took place outside of the gun. The results of these tests can be seen on our YouTube channel www.YouTube.com/GrahamBaates and discussion there or on the GBGuns page of Facebook. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1OL0wir0NI