Mixed loads for self-defense

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by Pistolenschutze, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. What do you folks think about the idea of mixing different bullet loads in firearms used for self-defense? What I'm referring to here, for example, would be loading, say, alternate hollow points and FMJs in an auto mag, or loading three .38s followed by two .357s in a J-frame revolver rated for .357s. Another possibility would be loading a shotgun with lighter loads followed by buckshot or slug loads.

    Any thoughts?
  2. carver

    carver Moderator

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    Not a bad idea with a revolver, but remember that the .357's might shoot through the BG and hit a bystander! As for the auto, I personally carry two extra mags. The one in the gun is loaded with Hydro Shocks, as is the first back up. The third back up is loaded with FMJ. If I should come upon a situation where I'll be shooting through the door of a car or truck, then I can just switch mags. and carry on, if I have time. Sometimes I just like to plink a little; slide in the mag of FMJ and go for it! IMHO

    Y'all be safe now, ya hear!
  3. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Ok this is one of my favourites. I am really keen on the idea and have followed it for thirty plus years. It is especially appropriate when you don't know what the gun will be called upon to achieve. Which is pretty much most self defence scenarios. That is to say a clean hit, or to penetrate wood, dry wall, glass etc.

    I have mixed ball and hollow points in pistols and buck/ AAA in shotguns, never slugs, (though having a few to hand may be prudent).

    I could go on, but wont. I shall just say I regard cartridge mixing, subject to range testing for reliable feed, to be useful and practical. I have always been surprised it is not more widely accepted.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2008
  4. Thomas_1

    Thomas_1 New Member

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    I could see it in a auto where you would have two seperate clips. But trying to remember what you have in your revolver chamber or shotgun at the time someone is breaking in would be hard to do at 3 am in the morning, at least for me.
  5. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    I've always stacked a few 2 3/4" #1 buckshot behind the 2 3/4" 00 buckshot in the house scattergun (last ones in=first ones out). Plus a #1 in the chamber. (I've never bought the idea that racking a shotgun would scare away boogiemen; it's just a silly way to pinpoint yourself for the threat.)

    Considred mixing Silvertips with FMJ in my .380acp for awhile. Kinda waiting to find a reason. I haven't any reason though to believe Silvertips would not penetrate enough, even during winter months, if anything winter weight clothing would clog the hollowpoint and cause them to behave like ball ammo anyways. I'm curious if a DA or jury would view mixing ammo as reckless, etc etc.

    In my SHTF bugout kit I have my G18 mags (for my G17) stacked 4x1 ball to tracer. The tracers are 115 grain and have no real advantage in ballistics, nor do I need/expect to desgnate targets for focused fire; they simply are dazzling at night and would cause confusion/fear as to who or what was firing back, thus cause hesitation to act. Most bandits and thugs have never seen red fire zip through their ranks or heard the evil hiss of tracers sizzling in something or someone nearby, which psychologically could destroy the will to fight. (A practice we followed on "dirt" teams, every carbine carried M856 tracers, so an element may believe initially to have contact with a much larger force heavily armed with crew served weapons. Only an insane fool would press directly into crew served guns. The joke was that we had to have anti-armor weapons...there was no room during trans and we couldn't sacrifice more weight for any crew served weapons. Shoot 'n scoot.) I'd never load tracers or incendiary in any CCW or home defense weapon.


    A situation where having mixed ammo in a .357, or even in 9mm, would be against a threat with soft body armor. Keep in mind body armor is growing easier to get as new advances make old technology cheaper. Career criminals have already been known to use it.

    I used to have LEO friend who kept one .38spl speedloader full of handloaded +P pointed lead bullets for his off duty S&W. He tested them by firing through an iron woodstove.

    A 9mm/.357 bullet that is JHP or JSP has to be going over 200 fps faster to penetrate the same soft armor as a FMJ. A 9mm FMJ at 1,100 will usually defeat the same IIA vest that a .357 mag JHP needs 1,300 fps to defeat. This becomes important if your weapon is very compact i.e. 3" or shorter barrel. (A II vest is usually defeated by 1,200 fps 9mm FMJ or 1,400 fps .357 JHP. If the question crossed your mind, yes, hard cast .357 mag non-expanding dangerous game ammo will defeat II and IIIA and a +P+ handloaded 9mm FMJ may too, with service length or longer barrel.)

    Shooting hard cast or FMJ bullets allow you to destroy a vest clad threat with ammo that generates less blast/recoil, and too much blast in lightweight/airweight weapons makes them very hard to control.

    .45acp shooters are out of luck against soft body armor even with FMJ.
  6. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

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    My housegun is a sawed off JC Higgins 12 gage pump. Legal length.

    It's loaded to where the first two out are #4 birdshot, next two out are 00 buck followed by a slug if needed.
  7. pawn

    pawn New Member

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    +1 for mixed shotgun loads :)

    I keep birdshot for the 1st 3 rounds and 00 buckshot for the last 4 in my Mossberg 500 Persuader.
  8. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    One reason for mixing loads, say in a semi auto pistol would be in case the first rounds fail to do the job. Lets say one loads three hollow points above three ball, you are presented with a threat and return fire, the threat is behind cover that defeats the hollow points, but that the ball will penetrate. It's not a matter of predicting exactly what will happen, we cant do that and that's the point.

    Also you dont think about the mix or have to remember, you wont anyway. You react to the threat in the way you have practised or been trained to.

    We all know hollow points have more effect on a human target, we all know ball will have better penetration. What I am saying is HPs rule, but if they dont get through the ball just might.

    The final choice is yours, you will have to live with it, I hope. For me, when I worked with firearms I liked to mix.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2008
  9. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 New Member

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    I like to use one type only. I know what each and every round will do and no guessing what is up next.
    Go with what makes you comfortable but test it out first.
  10. The idea of mixing rounds does seem to have some merit, at least in some cases. To be honest, it most appeals to me with snubbie revolvers in .38/.357 because .357 rounds have such a muzzle blast and heavy recoil in such small weapons. I figure that if the first three .38s don't stop the threat, it may be time to gain a little more "whacking power" with the faster .357s. ;)

    With shotguns, I much favor the idea of mixed loads. I generally load with heavy bird shot (#4s) for the first two to chamber, then two more of #4 or 00 buck, and finally one loaded with a slug. With an extended magazine, I adjust accordingly.

    I've never tried the mixed hollow-point/FMJ method Tranter advocates, though I do see some merit in it. The only thing that deters me somewhat is the relative ineffectiveness of 9mm FMJ even if it does penetrate a barrier more readily.
  11. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    Pistol, you force the question of which is better in a fight, hitting the threat with a FMJ or missing with a JHP?

    In all fairness, the problem is a technical one with no clear 100% technical answer. The reason I say that is because a few factors stand out.

    Bullet mass, regardless of JHP/FMJ, in FBI-TX DPS-Cali Hwy Patrol-etc etc tests, was a major factor in potential terminal performance after barrier penetration, and even in penetration itself. 9mm, .357 sig, .40, .45acp etc...heavier was better once you just looked at penetration. 9mm +P+ and .357 sig evened things up somewhat with greater velocity becoming more kenetic energy etc etc.

    Actual barrier penetration...a bullet must clear the barrier to strike the threat. The difference with larger calibers (heavier sectional density) is evident. But the difference in exact same material is minor, like 1/4"'s amount between calibers.

    Some bullet designs stand out in certain materials within given calibers. In wood, i.e. solid plywood doors, XTP and Hydrashock falls behind DPX and Gold Dot in .45acp, but the ancient Silvertips in .357 mag is on par with them all. In fact .357 mag Gold Dot usually punches through 33% more wood. This may lead you to believe your .357 mag idea is on point, and I'd agree if you're using Gold Dot or Golden Saber. Keep in mind that these bullets plugged with wood and failed to expand. Bullets that did expand were unable to penetrate anything near those that stayed plugged.

    FMJ? Still punches through 25% more wood than hollowpoints in a given caliber.

    Golden Saber appears to have the edge in vehicle penetration. The LEO only version of the bonded bullet must have been tested a long time because it sure is good at what it does.

    Where generic lead core JHP bullets bounce off hoods and windshields, which 9mm is most prone to do, all premium JHP bullets seemed to have no problem punching through windshields with enough power to inflict a serious wound. Those that miss gelatin often pass through front seats and are stopped in the rear seat. No surprise that FMJ ends up in the back of the vehicles.



    What I'd determine from all that, and I'm just skimming off the top, is heavier calibers help, but bullet design choice is even more helpful, when penetration of barriers is desired. Some JHP are better than others, but FMJ/military ball dominates.

    The other side of the coin is that 50% of police officers shot by comrades in the US are bullets that passed through a suspect's body first. With that in mind, your CCW shooting through a threat and hitting a bystander is a real problem to consider. Expanding bullets that stop in the threat are the way to go for civilian CCW. Finding tht bullet that does this good, but still can punch through a barrier is a challenge, and even if you find that bullet(Golden Saber Bonded), you must accept that if you miss the threat, that bullet could exit your house wall and hit a kid across the street, or punch through the car windows behind your target and strike a mom driving across the parking lot etc etc with enough energy left to kill or maim, where a bullet with less barrier penetration potential (Silvertip .45acp etc), if it misses the threat, may rest in a backstop as simple as the wall.


    I believe your .38spl's followed by 2 .357's is a good idea. A spare mag of FMJ, or speedloader, is a good idea.

    P primary plan
    A alternate plan
    C contingency plan
    E escape plan (No shame in skipping directly to this step.)

    I also believe though that the real answer to the problem, however technical it is, can be made less serious by a tactical answer. If the threat can place 50% of his body behind a barrier, train to hit 50% smaller targets. If the threat can wait behind a barrier your weapon can't penetrate, have a means to escape, fortify to defend in place, or be able to call the cavalry(police) at all times.

    My opinion may be offset by my background. For military, penetration is always the default answer to destroying the target. The only exceptions I can think of are door breach slugs, because desintigrating slugs are safer on both sides, and 5.56mm Matchkings because they are highly accurate...greentips are still used for CQB.

    The FBI hasn't sold off their MP5 10mm's for the same reason...it does what the Thompson did; shoot through barriers with a big bullet. Same reason the SS have those briefcases with triggers on the handles; they hold a MP5k 10mm to shoot through barriers with a big bullet.

    A civilian with CCW is stuck to determine the best tools for his situation, but how he uses them is the only thing that will actually determine his syrvival.

    Fights are not won by the smartest, they are lost by the dumbest.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2008
  12. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Delta, I have no idea how but it's like we went to the same school. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2008
  13. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    Good to hear, Tranter:)

    Sorry for delayed reply; I've been on a bit of a furlough.
  14. Old Timer

    Old Timer New Member

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    You did say self defense, right? Why would anyone load solids with a 20% - 30% decrease in stopping power? I load frangibles or optimum JHPs in all my self-defense handguns. I have never been attacked by a car or large carnivore i, but I was put to extremes by a large, whitefaced range bull once. A man is only about 6 - 9 inches thick. I want a handgun load that will dump its energy in that distance. I only consider loading solids in the .32 ACP because the cartridge has about the same wound capacity and better penetration with the solid. It is a trade-off of stopping power (already marginal) for killing power.
    I do mix loads in my 12-ga tac shotgun, with 00 buckshot on the bottom and #4 buckshot on top. For my critter gun I load #4 buckshot on the bottom and #4 birdshot on top. This is more the result of rapidly increasing range than changing targets. Kitten eating coyotes rarely stand still to be shot at. I have been known to put a couple of slug loads on the stock for that occasional rabid Volkswagen or bear.
    Very few people understand the awful power of a 12-ga shotgun up close. Old Timer
  15. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    Energy transfer into a target does not become a benefit to wounding until you are well into the spectrum of rifle velocities/weights.

    In ACP handgun cartridges, from .25acp to .45acp, there is no more energy than could be generated by a punch from a fist.

    "Serious misunderstanding has been generated by looking upon "kinetic energy transfer" from projectile to tissue as a mechanism of injury. In spite of data to the contrary (1, 63), many assume that the amount of "kinetic energy deposit" in the body by a projectile is a measure of damage (2-5, 36, 37, 40). Such opinions ignore the direct interaction of projectile and tissue that is the crux of wound ballistics....

    A large slow projectile (Fig 7) will crush (permanent cavity) a large amount of tissue, whereas a small fast missile with the same kinetic energy (Fig 4) will stretch more tissue (temporary cavity) but crush little....

    Many body tissues (muscle, skin, bowel wall, lung) are soft and flexible--the physical characteristics of a good shock absorber. Drop a raw egg onto a cement floor from a height of 2 m; then drop a rubber ball of the same mass from the same height. The kinetic energy exchange in both dropped objects was the same at the moment of impact. Compare the difference in effect; the egg breaks while the ball rebounds undamaged. Most living animal soft tissue has a consistency much closer to that of the rubber ball than to that of the brittle egg shell. This simple experiment demonstrates the fallacy in the common assumption that all kinetic energy "deposited" in the body does damage.

    The assumption that "kinetic energy deposit" is directly proportional to damage done to tissues also fails to recognize the components of the projectile-tissue collision that use energy but do not cause tissue disruption. They are 1) sonic pressure wave, 2) heating of the tissue, 3) heating of the projectile, 4) deformation of the projectile, and 5) motion imparted to the tissue (gelatin bloc displacement for example).

    The popular format for determination of "kinetic energy deposit" uses a chronograph to determine striking velocity and another to determine exit velocity. A 15-cm thick block of tissue simulant (gelatin or soap) is the target most often used. This method has one big factor in its favor; it is simple and easy to do. As for its validity, the interested reader is referred to wound profiles shown in Figs 1-7. Comparing only the first 15 cm of the missile path with the entire missile path as shown on the profiles shows the severe limitation of the 15-cm block format. The assumption by weapons developers that only the first 15 cm of the penetrating projectile's path through tissue is of clinical significance (64) may simplify their job, but fails to provide sufficient information for valid prediction of the projectile's wounding potential. The length of bullet trajectories through the human torso can be up to four times as long as those in these small blocs....

    Anyone yet unconvinced of the fallacy in using kinetic energy alone to measure wounding capacity might wish to consider the example of a modern broadhead hunting arrow. It is used to kill all species of big game, yet its striking energy is only about 50 ft-lb (68 Joules)-- less than that of the .22 Short bullet. Energy is used efficiently by the sharp blade of the broadhead arrow. Cutting tissue is far more efficient than crushing it, and crushing it is far more efficient than tearing it apart by stretch (as in temporary cavitation)." M.L. Fackler, M.D

    Letterman Army Institute of Research
    Division of Military Trauma Research
    Presidio of San Francisco, California 94219
    Institute Report No. 239
    July 1987

    Fackler did note that transfer of kenetic energy did inflict more wounding along crushed tissue by bullet fragmentation, if the bullet actually did the crushing, but this was in rifle bullets with thousands of pounds of energy....more like being struck by a car than a fist.

    Looking at 200 ft-lbs of energy, or even 500 ft-lbs, as part of the wounding mechanism is a useless effort.

    The point of solid/FMJ handgun bullets for self-defense is to penetrate as much vital organ tissue as possible when a HP bullet in that caliber would fail to penetrate either barrier and/or enough tissue. (For an HP to work well enough to show any improved wounding ability, it must both expand for a larger permanent wound channel, but still penetrate deep enough to crush tissue in vital organs.)

    "Dumping energy" has nothing to do with it, either with hollowpoints or otherwise. Gun writers took the Energy Dump Theory from rifle hunting and applied it to handguns for something to write about and later to continue controversy to keep selling articles/magazines. Pages upon pages of writing by those magazines is total fallacy and fake science.
  16. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Exactly Delta! the number of times I have said just that...

    Mixing is something I always did in a handgun. I was shown by one of the best, and I paid attention.

    The reasons are that one bullet type cant do it all, and in an urban environment you never know what you will be asking the gun to do. Frangible bullets are great, but limited, they will disintegrate on thin car steel or ply wood. Mix them with ball.

    Actually its your call, but like wearing a seat belt or helmet on a mcycle, there's no option to change your mind if the whatsit hits the fan. So give the matter serious thought.
  17. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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  18. carver

    carver Moderator

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    I usually carry only one of two guns. The first and most carried is .45 ACP loaded with HydroShocks. I carry two extra mags when carring this pistol, and one mag is FMJ. The other pistol I carry is .380 with 20 rds on board, + an extra 19 rd. mag. With the .380 I do stagger my rounds in the mag. The .380 surely isn't the best SD rd. out there, so I stager the rds. First one out is a JHP (HydroShock) followed by a solid. My thinking is that if the JHP fails to penetrate, the solid might get the job done. A bullet through a major organ, expanding or not, would most probably be a stopping shot. Anything that can get to the central nervous system and disrupt it works for me.
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