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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What ammo do you use in your carry and home defense 1911/2011? What’s the logic for your choice(s)? If the ammunition drought made your chosen load unavailable, what substitutes did you select?
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For folks like us ammo selection takes several datapoints into account. I am curious to see if likeminded individuals have similar choices of ammunition for optimal performance in real life scenarios. I am hoping we can learn from each others experiences and thinking

Thinking
for ammunition selection starts with the potential performance of each round, both penetration and expansion, in the context of highest probability class of scenarios; then picking the most accurate from that list in a given gun. I use the same ammo for carry and home defense with the exception of 10mm.

For 9mm across my 1911s and 2011s: my first choice is Federal HST 124gr, and second choice is Speer Gold Dot also in 124gr. I also use 147gr. HST, but not in my Atlas which loves 124gr. I backfill with SIG V-Crown 124gr. +P
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For .45 ACP in my Government 1911s: my first choice is Federal HST in 230gr., and second is Winchester Ranger T bonded, also in 230gr., Since I am short on HST, I backfill as 3rd choice with Speer Gold Dot 230gr. and Asym 185gr. +P Barnes TAC-XP JHP.
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For 10mm in my Government 1911s I use different loads for carry in urban areas and outdoors, which includes our more rural property (coyotes).

10mm urban first choice is SIG V-Crown 180gr., JHP and second is Underwood 180gr. bonded JHP at 1300 fps. One reason for selecting the SIG as #1 is their 180gr., FMJ which is loaded to simulate the V-Crown.
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10mm outdoors are full power loads, where first choice is Underwood 135gr. at 1600fps which is loud and snappy, and the second which resides in a backup magazine given the low probability of being used is the Underwood 220gr. Hard Cast at 1200 fps.

Seasonality also plays a part, given MN harsh winters, resulting in more layers of thicker clothing, my winter loads are mostly the same brand/bullet type but the heavier and slower moving and deeper penetrating rounds (e.g., HST 147gr. and Ranger-T 147gr. bonded); also more likely to carry my 10mm 1911 with what I described as urban loads.
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From Dr. Robert’s work published on AR15.com for self defense ammunition: see his work here /

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See URL for detailed caliber, penetration, barrier… Best Choices for Self Defense Ammo
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I carry a .45 and at home in the middle of nowhere I carry FMJ or cast handloads. I have found several JHP loads(all 230gr.) to be pretty awesome and the Ranger T-Series and HST are always at the top. Gold Dot's are my third choice for factory ammo and they are pretty amazing bullets for a third place choice.

For 9mm factory loads I have always liked the 147gr. HST and Winchester T-Series. 124gr. HST's and Gold Dot's are pretty awesome as well. I have no doubt that other bullets are amazing, but these have worked for me for a long time. I like the Federal AE 147gr. FMJ because it has a flat nose, hits hard and is in my experience very accurate.

.380 we only carry as a pocket gun and for that I only trust FMJ to have a chance of penetrating properly.

In 5.45x39 I love good ol' 7N6, but the 53gr. Hornady V-Max factory load explodes violently and is what I would use in or near the house.

In .308 I am very impressed with the 108gr. fragmenting mil-surp bullets, but I haven't shot anything with those in a long time. I don't use the .308 for HD, but that would be the one.

In my 12ga. I have two #4 buckshot loads followed by five rounds of 00 buckshot. I have another 12ga. with #6 birdshot for skunks.
Thank you for the detailed and helpful follow up, @Merton and extending to more common calibers! The fact you can reload is an awesome plus, especially given no boon in the future of the ammo marketplace.

I want to share a suggestion and solicit feedback from others too wrt the usage of FMJ in different calibers. The primary scenarios for using FMJ as far as I understand it are: (1) concern a JHP wouldn’t expand given some problem (e.g., insufficient velocity, HP cavity plugged), and (2) a requirement for deep penetration.

Both of these can be addressed (after proper self testing) with the full copper, non-expanding Lehigh Defense penetration bullet which is available from them, WC (Wilson Combat bought the company), and Underwood.
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After stripping lots of marketing talk, they say this: ”…the Xtreme Penetrator Fluid Transfer Monolithic (XP FTM) product line, for both handgun and rifles. The progressive nose geometry allows for deep, straight penetration while creating a permanent wound cavity diameter exceeding that of most expanding bullets.

The rest of the above as well as their offerings can be found on:Xtreme Penetrator - Our Technologies and it would be great if anyone who has done first hand testing, or research into these and can offer an informative view rather than my testing suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I swear I didnt see your post. I was coming in to say that I run Lehigh Xtreme Defense 90gr for my 9mm guns
I also run it for my 380 Ruger LCP Max

The reason I chose it is because Bill Wilson loves it so much he bought the company, and he runs it in his carry gun, which is my carry gun. It has run flawlessly

He shoots orders of magnitude more ammo than I do, and he came to this conclusion. I found the same results even though I only put about 60 rounds through my gun each month. The lions share is cheap ball ammo
That’s awesome. I also use Lehigh in the .380 I cc on my bike In the baby SIG below
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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
For 9mm, I use whatever ammo on Doc's list that I can obtain, and runs in my gun. Over the last five or so years, that is either Federal HST 147 or Speer Gold Dot 124+p. The last order in 2021, the GD was available, so that's what I ordered. Both have run in all my plastic striker guns 100%.

I don't have an experience with .45 SD ammo, so am hoping to pick up on input here for my new Garrison (my first .45, my first 1911). Looks like Federal HST or Ranger T Bonded are popular.
Solid choices; thanks for sharing.

Yes, reading the thread thus far, it seems that flagship LE product lines from the leading ammo producers—Federal HST, Winchester Ranger, and Speer Gold Dot—are the most often chosen thus far. It also seems that folks prefer heavier bullets (e.g., 230gr. for .45 and 147gr. for 9mm) and more often than I expected, +P too. It also seems that Underwood is very popular among Addicts and that Doctor Roberts list and it’s data driven approach has inspired many folks, despite being older, because the essentials of what makes solid self defense ammo are unchanged. One exception is the addition of Lehigh full copper rounds to the mix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Liberty--love the stuff. Reduces carry weight too in hi-cap guns.
Works well in my 1911 and my CZ97 45's.
I am always curious about the choice of new exotic ammunition. I am less adventurous in this context. What made you select these folk? Less weight is always good; just curious to learn something new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
45=230gr HST
9=Gold Dot 124+P
My pistols function 100% and are accurate with both. And they work.
+1 on outstanding function, impact, and accuracy. It seems that those two as well as Winchester Ranger are chosen most often by folks who responded; any of the LE lines from the top makers is a good choice.

…if you want to geek out with data keep reading. Otherwise, stop since you already know the answers and have selected your ammo.

Both Speer and Federal have had several LE wound ballistics workshops where different agencies could see them tested in an easy to compare manner. This is one example:

- There’s a nice tool that takes lots of testing data and shows them in a simple ’apples to apples’ Law Enforcement - Federal Premium LE, Speer LE, BLACKHAWK!, Eagle - Load Comparison

Other useful links for browsing are:
- Why Ballistics Gel Works and Caliber Arguments are Dumb - Lucky Gunner Lounge

- The anatomy of a gunshot and why your bullet choices matter

- More testing of ammo from Lucky Gunner from @Whiten: Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition - Ballistic Testing Data

-The original testing from Doctor Robert’s: Best Choices for Self Defense Ammo
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 · (Edited)

This is the ammo I mentioned--I LOVE this +P Liberty ammo--it's really hot, functions perfectly and really reduces total carry weight. Big time reccomendation!
This and similar types of exotic ammo focuses only on energy, thus the very light and very fast projectile, ignoring penetration and expansion, both of which (and shot placement) are critical. At least if you accept the FBI’s view of what makes solid self defense ammunition based on actual shooting (prompted by the 1986 Miami shootout event https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_FBI_Miami_shootout ). That’s one reason why folks prefer slower and heavier bullets such as 230gr. HST and 147gr. Gold Dot. You want to reach critical organs in less than ideal angles and with “stuff” in the way, for example an extended arm, or barriers ranging from clothing to windshield.

Anyway, as I think @UBOATDOC said previously, with handgun ammo which is limited in power, most good ammunition will work if you disable the target with a brain or spine shot(s). It’s also worth calling out that a rifle with proper ammunition will have a lower probability of over penetration if you hit your target.That’s where high velocity—much higher velocity—comes into play. The links for Doctor Robert’s cover that too. It’s counter intuitive on first look and we’ll worth reading about.

Also, in my previous life wearing green, we learned that to stop a determined attacker, hitting their body with a round per second or so will override their ability to do anything because the nervous system is overwhelmed and there is only so much the brain can process. That last bit isn’t part of what I think as self defense mindset; only stopping the threat until the danger is over.

Happy Thanksgiving!
 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
I bought a variety of their bullets to test. My testing was delayed recently when I discovered a compound crack in the cast iron bullet trap that I have inside the shop. The gelatin should stop the bullets but over penetration would result in a hole in the wall which would allow the Minnesota winter inside and I pay dearly to keep it at bay. The low outside temps would skew results. I'll resume as soon as the new trap is built.

I've received notice from both Underwood and Lehigh of 20% off Thanksgiving sales!!
Awesome! I look forward to seeing your write up and takeaways. You definitely want to keep our bone chilling MN fog and cold out.
 
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