Reloads for SD, Again!

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by carver, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. carver

    carver Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Messages:
    15,084
    Location:
    DAV, Deep in the Pineywoods of East Texas, just we
    I have been thinking of the "Should you use hand loads in your SD hand gun" question. I have been advised that this is a bad idea, because you might wind up in a court room trying to explain why you used home made ammo, while a Prosecutor is trying to convince a jury that you made special ammo for killing a person, and that this makes you a bad person, etc. I have posted numerous times on this idea, "Don't do it"! While doing some reloading over the past few days I have decided to ask you folks what you think of this idea. There are several bullet manufactures that make bullets. Some of these better designs are used by ammo companies to manufacture complete ammo for you to purchase and shoot, Hornady for an example. You can purchase the XTP bullets already loaded and ready to go in almost every hand gun caliber.

    What if you reload the XTP bullet in say .44 Mag, and you wanted to carry a S&W 629 in 4", as a SD handgun? I am choosing the .44 Mag, and .357 as examples because I can compare them to the lesser rounds that they were derived from, but this theory should hold true to any caliber. In .44 Mag. a 240gr. bullet will shoot thru a any deer sized animal, thus, it will also shoot thru a person. Bad idea for a concealed SD handgun! But what if you loaded down? The .44 Spc. in a 4" barrel it should come in around 850fps, and in a 2" barrel it should drop to around 700-750fps with factory ammo, or your own make of max loads (according to what I have learned from many years of reloading this caliber). If you loaded the .44 Mag to a lower power, say 1100-1200fps you might still get over penetration unless a large bone was struck, but no Prosecutor would ever try to convince a jury that you made special loads for killing a person! A .357 with a 158gr. XTP bullet should come in around 1200-1250fps, and a .38+P should come in around 800-900fps. Again 1200fps with a 158gr. bullet is over penetration. Slow the .357 down to something like 1,000-1100fps, and you again probably have a suitable SD round that no Prosecutor would challenge in court room. It would be too obvious that your intent was not to make a killer bullet, not with weaker home made ammo than what you could buy off the shelf. What do you guys, and gals, think? Do you think the loaded down ammo would keep you out of legal trouble?
  2. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Messages:
    3,067
    Carver, I've read and heard of the "Don't use hand-loads" concerns for ages, but I've never heard (or read) of anyone actually having to defend themselves in a court of law for using them.

    Has anyone run across any documentation on this issue? (I'm asking in a non-confrontational way, please!)
  3. Trouble 45-70

    Trouble 45-70 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    2,703
    Location:
    NE Ar. W. of Black River
    Jeff Cooper had an article in G&A I think, many years ago about a guy who got creamed for using reloads. Made a believer out of me. Almost always use semiwadcutters at reduced velocitys. Because of lawyers, I use Gold Dots for SD. I think a surviving assailant who was shot with a factory Gold Dot would have preferred my target loads. Hope I never find out.
  4. carver

    carver Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Messages:
    15,084
    Location:
    DAV, Deep in the Pineywoods of East Texas, just we
    I too have always carried factory ammo in my SD handguns, and that is what is in them now. However, in the home, the rest of my guns are loaded with my own home brew. I have been loading XTP's for so many years, and I know what these bullets will do at just about any functional speed, they will expand. Just wanted to get some opinions on hand loads that are less than max. I have read most of our formost gun athorities on this one, and they all claim that reduced loads will probably leave no powder residue, and that this could be used against you since there is no way to prove how far away from the perp when you fired. IMHO, if they are going to lie you into jail, then that's where you'll probably end up.
  5. glocknut

    glocknut New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2003
    Messages:
    12,490
    Location:
    THE FORUM MASCOTT...
    I believe that if there is not a survivor to lie about what really took place.... then you are better off.

    As for reloaded ammo question. It does not have to make sense....it just is what it is....

    Gn
  6. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    There are cases where the prosecutor uses that argument. Counters:

    The bullets are the same as used in commercial loads.
    The loads are tailored to my gun to be more accurate than commercial, thus minimizing collateral damage from misses.
    The loads are inspected on an each-by-each case, to make sure that they are properly loaded and safe, rather than the commercial method of sampling.

    Pops
  7. Vladimir

    Vladimir New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    3,558
    Location:
    Issaquah WA
    I do not reload so cannot say for sure, but I would use what one is most confident in. If that is reloads, so be it.

    Do not let potential pressure from anti-gunners put lives at risk by forcing you to use ammunition you are not confident in.
  8. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,513
    Location:
    NH
    To me if you have a 44 mag and carry 44 Spl handloads it would be real difficult for a prosecutor to argue you had some special killer handload when you are utilizing 40% of what the gun is capable of. Sheriff Jim Wilson did an article last year in Shooting Times where he asked readers to give him specific verifiable examples of where the use of handloads was used against someone in court and no one could. Draw your own conclusion and I'm sure it depends on where you live as to what happens. If you shoot someone I expect the cheapest you will walk away from it will be in the $40-$50k range.
  9. ggtgary

    ggtgary New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Messages:
    7
    Good lord Carver! Haven't you dealt with attorneys before? You think he/she (civil or criminal attorney) cares that you loaded reduced loads? He is trying to nail your ass. You are a mad monster working up killer formulations in your basement. Remember the jury is made up of 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty. Their eyes are gonna glaze over when you start talkin' velocities, powder charges, bullet weights and types. You go talkin' like that you just proved you have the knowledge to make those demon killer loads. When I go to court I will be able to say that I was using what my ccw instructor told me to use and I don't know much else about it.
  10. KellyTTE

    KellyTTE New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Denver CO
  11. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    295
    This very discussion was on the board just a few days ago. Lots of info on it there.

    On that thread, one of the members posted cases where people were put on trial by the DA for using hand loads. It just complicates things. Gives them something to come after you for. Shouldn't be that way, but that's the world we live in.
  12. carver

    carver Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Messages:
    15,084
    Location:
    DAV, Deep in the Pineywoods of East Texas, just we
    I read all that, but my question was what if you used less than max loads in what ever caliber you choose to carry. The .44 Spc load in a .44 Mag hand gun sort of thing.
  13. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    295
    I'm sure it would be effective. You probably would be able to beat the charges. BUt.....is it worth it to go down that road?? That's the question you have to ask yourself. If it ever happens, do I want to be defending myself for those reloads? Store bought ammo is easy to defend. You had no part in making it anything other than what it is. Commonly available, anybody can buy it. Your 'custom' ammo puts you directly liable for the results. A viscious prosecutor can drag you through the mud. In the end, you may win, but the attorneys will have all your money.

    Just my opinion....worth exactly what you're paying for it! :D
  14. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Depends on Uncle Sam's whim every 3 yrs.
    This is a post from Mas Ayoob at THR
    ---------------------------------------------------

    Cases Where Handloads Caused Problems in Court

    As promised, here are the sources for records for any who feel a need to confirm the cases I have referenced previously where handloaded ammunition caused problems for people in the aftermath of shootings.

    As I have noted in this thread earlier, and as the attorneys who have responded to this matter have confirmed, local trials and results are not usually available on-line. However, in each case, I have included the location where the physical records of the trials are archived.

    NH v. Kennedy

    James Kennedy, a sergeant on the Hampton, NH police force, pursued a drunk driver whose reckless operation of the vehicle had forced other motorists off the road. The suspect ended up in a ditch, stalled and trying to get underway again. Advised by radio that responding backup officers were still a distance away, and fearing that the man would get back on the road and kill himself and others, Kennedy approached the vehicle. At the driver’s door, the suspect grabbed Kennedy’s Colt .45 auto and pulled it towards himself. It discharged in his face, causing massive injury.

    The reload in the gun was a 200 grain Speer JHP, loaded to duplicate the 1000 fps from a 5” barrel then advertised by Speer for the same bullet in loaded cartridge configuration.

    This was the first case where I saw the argument, “Why wasn’t regular ammunition deadly enough for you,” used by opposing counsel. They charged Kennedy with aggravated assault. They made a large issue out of his use of handloads, suggesting that they were indicative of a reckless man obsessed with causing maximum damage.

    Defense counsel hired the expert I suggested, Jim Cirillo, who did a splendid job of demolishing that argument and other bogus arguments against Kennedy at trial, and Kennedy was acquitted.

    This case dates back to the late 1970s. The local courts tell me that the case documentation will be on file at Rockingham County Superior Court, PO Box 1258, Kingston, NH 03843. File search time is billed at $25 per hour for cases such as this that date back prior to 1988.

    NJ V. Bias

    This is the classic case of gunshot residue (GSR) evidence being complicated by the use of handloaded ammunition, resulting in a case being misinterpreted in a tragic and unjust way. On the night of 2/26/89, Danny Bias entered the master bedroom of his home to find his wife Lise holding the family home defense revolver, a 6” S&W 686, to her head. He told police that knowing that she had a history of suicidal ideation, he attempted to grab the gun, which discharged, killing her. The gun was loaded with four handloaded lead SWC cartridges headstamped Federal .38 Special +P.

    Autopsy showed no GSR. The medical examiner determined that Lise Bias had a reach of 30”, and the NJSP Crime Lab in Trenton determined that the gun in question would deposit GSR to a distance of 50” or more with either factory Federal 158 grain SWC +P .38 Special, or handloads taken from his home under warrant for testing after Danny told them about the reloads. However, the reloads that were taken and tested had Remington-Peters headstamps on the casings and were obviously not from the same batch.

    Danny had loaded 50 rounds into the Federal cases of 2.3, 2.6, and 2.9 grains of Bullseye, with Winchester primers, under an unusually light 115 grain SWC that he had cast himself, seeking a very light load that his recoil sensitive wife could handle. The gun had been loaded at random from that box of 50 and there was no way of knowing which of the three recipes was in the chamber from which the fatal bullet was launched.

    We duplicated that load, and determined that with all of them and particularly the 2.3 grain load, GSR distribution was so light that it could not be reliably gathered or recovered, from distances as short as 24”. Unfortunately, the remaining rounds in the gun could not be disassembled for testing as they were the property of the court, and there is no forensic artifact that can determine the exact powder charge that was fired from a given spent cartridge.

    According to an attorney who represented him later, police originally believed the death to be a suicide. However, the forensic evidence testing indicated that was not possible, and it was listed as suspicious death. Based largely on the GSR evidence, as they perceived it, the Warren County prosecutor’s office presented the case to the grand jury, which indicted Danny Bias for Murder in the First Degree in the death of his wife.

    Attorney John Lanza represented Danny very effectively at his first trial, which ended in a hung jury. Legal fees exceeded $100,000, bankrupting Danny; Attorney Lanza, who believed then and now in his client’s innocence, swallowed some $90,000 worth of legal work for which he was never paid.

    For his second trial, Bias was assigned attorney Elisabeth Smith by the Public Defender’s office. Challenging the quality of evidence collection, she was able to weaken the prosecution’s allegation that the GSR factor equaled murder, but because the GSR issue was so muddled by the handloaded ammo factor, she could not present concrete evidence that the circumstances were consistent with suicide, and the second trial ended with a hung jury in 1992. At this point, the prosecution having twice failed to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge threw out the murder charge.

    It was after this that I personally lost track of the case. However, I’ve learned this past week that the case of NJ v. Daniel Bias was tried a third time in the mid-1990s, resulting in his being acquitted of Aggravated Manslaughter but convicted of Reckless Manslaughter. The appellate division of the Public Defender’s office handled his post-conviction relief and won him a fourth trial. The fourth trial, more than a decade after the shooting, ended with Danny Bias again convicted of Reckless Manslaughter. By now, the state had changed its theory and was suggesting that Danny had pointed the gun at her head to frighten her, thinking one of the two empty chambers would come up under the firing pin, but instead discharging the gun. Danny Bias was sentenced to six years in the penitentiary, and served three before being paroled. He remains a convicted felon who cannot own a firearm.

    It is interesting to hear the advice of the attorneys who actually tried this case. John Lanza wrote, “When a hand load is used in an incident which becomes the subject of a civil or criminal trial, the duplication of that hand load poses a significant problem for both the plaintiff or the prosecutor and the defendant. Once used, there is no way, with certainty, to determine the amount of powder or propellant used for that load. This becomes significant when forensic testing is used in an effort to duplicate the shot and the resulting evidence on the victim or target.”

    He adds, “With the commercial load, one would be in a better position to argue the uniformity between the loads used for testing and the subject load. With a hand load, you have no such uniformity. Also, the prosecution may utilize either standard loads or a different hand load in its testing. The result would be distorted and could be prejudicial to the defendant. Whether or not the judge would allow such a scientific test to be used at trial, is another issue, which, if allowed, would be devastating for the defense. From a strictly forensic standpoint, I would not recommend the use of hand loads because of the inherent lack of uniformity and the risk of unreliable test results. Once the jury hears the proof of an otherwise unreliable test, it can be very difficult to ‘unring the bell.’”

    Ms. Smith had this to say, after defending Danny Bias through his last three trials. I asked her, “Is it safe to say that factory ammunition, with consistently replicable gunshot residue characteristics, (would) have proven that the gun was within reach of Lise’s head in her own hand, and kept the case from escalating as it did?”

    She replied, “You’re certainly right about that. Gunshot residue was absolutely the focus of the first trial. The prosecution kept going back to the statement, “It couldn’t have happened the way he said it did’.”

    The records on the Bias trials should be available through:
    The Superior Court of New Jersey
    Warren County
    313 Second Street
    PO Box 900
    Belvedere, NJ 07823

    Those who wish to follow the appellate track of this case will find it in the Atlantic Reporter.

    142 N.J. 572, 667 A.2d 190 (Table)

    Supreme Court of New Jersey
    State
    v.
    Daniel N. Bias
    NOS. C-188 SEPT.TERM 1995, 40,813
    Oct 03, 1995
    Disposition: Cross-pet. Denied.
    N.J. 1995.
    State v. Bias
    142 N>J> 572, 667 A.2d 190 (Table)


    TN v. Barnes

    The decedent attacked Robert Barnes and his young daughter with a large knife and was shot to death by the defendant with SJHP .38 Special reloads from a Smith & Wesson Model 36. The distance between the two at the time of the shooting became a key element in the trial, and a misunderstanding of that distance was a primary reason he was charged with Murder. The evidence was messed up in a number of ways in this case, and I do not believe the reloaded ammo (which the prosecution did not recognize to be such until during the trial) was the key problem, but it definitely was part of a problem in reconstructing the case. We were able to do that without GSR evidence, and Mr. Barnes won an acquittal. In this case, I believe the use of factory ammo, combined with proper handling and preserving of the evidence by the initial investigators, would have made the defense much easier and might well have prevented the case from ever being lodged against him.

    The records of TN v. Barnes are archived under case number 87297015 at:

    Criminal Justice Center
    201 Poplar
    Suite 401
    Memphis, TN 38103

    Iowa v. Cpl. Randy Willems

    A man attempted to disarm and murder Corporal Randy Willems of the Davenport, IA Police Department, screaming “Give me your (expletive deleted) gun, I’ll blow your (expletive deleted) brains out.” Willems shot him during the third disarming attempt, dropping him instantly with one hit to the abdomen from a department issue factory round, Fiocchi 9mm 115 grain JHP +P+. The subject survived and stated that the officer had shot him for nothing from a substantial distance away. GSR testing showed conclusively that the subject’s torso was approximately 18” from the muzzle of the issue Beretta 92 when it discharged. Randy was acquitted of criminal charges in the shooting at trial in 1990. Two years later, Randy and his department won the civil suit filed against them by the man who was shot.

    I use this case when discussing handloads because it is a classic example of how the replicability of factory ammunition, in the forensic evidence sense, can annihilate false allegations by the “bad guy” against the “good guy” who shot him. The records of State of Iowa v. Corporal Randy Willems are archived in the Iowa District Court in Scott County, Davenport, Iowa. Those from the civil suit, Karwoski v. Willems and the City of Davenport, should be at the Iowa Civil Court of Scott County, also located in Davenport, Iowa.

    A final word: I did not research the above and place it here to placate lightweight net ninjas. I did it because three recent Internet threads led me to believe that a number of decent people had honest questions about the real-world concerns about using handloads for self-defense, and were possibly putting themselves in jeopardy by doing so. For well over a decade, certain people have been creating an urban myth that says, “No one has ever gotten in trouble in court because they used handloads.”

    This is now absolutely, and I hope finally, refuted.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Massad Ayoob

    Source - http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost....&postcount=140
  15. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Depends on Uncle Sam's whim every 3 yrs.
  16. graehaven

    graehaven Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Thanks for posting that Delta. Good info.

    I don't understand the fascination with the subject, nor wanting to actually load your own defensive carry. It's absurd, when there are so many viable commercial products to choose from.

    Buy 50 rounds of a commercially loaded SD ammo, run it through your weapon of choice to make sure it feeds properly, then stock up on it. It's not rocket science. It's not expensive....yet.

    If you must obsess about hand loading, do so where it concerns hunting and competition shooting.
  17. graehaven

    graehaven Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Ball ammo frequently shoots THROUGH people, whereas, hollow point ammo tends to NOT do that.

    Commercially available hollow point ammo is also what the police use. I think Ayoob has already covered this stuff in some of his articles.
  18. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    295
    IMO,

    The defense of that situation is easy. It says right on the box.."Personal Protection" or "Home Defense".

    Sir, the reason I don't carry FMJ rounds in my personal defense gun is that they are inherintly more dangerous. It is a known fact (lots of documentation to prove it) the a FMJ round will penetrate through a human being and has the potential to harm another innocent bystander beyond the attacker.

    If the JHP went through the attacker, and lodged in the wall, then the FMJ would have likely gone THROUGH the wall and carried into my neighbors house, or into an approaching bystander.

    "Isn't FMJ proven to be just as effective" NO, Lots of documentation to dispell that.

    The reason I have the JHP's is not to inflict pain and suffering on anyone, but rather to stop an attacker who is endangering my life as quickly as possible. I would never shoot at anyone unless they were a direct threat to my life or the life of someone in my immediate presence. The self defense ammo is known to stop an aggressive attacker much more quickly, Often with only one shot. Police reports show that many a man has been shot with several rounds of FMJ and continued to attack, eventually dieing. The hollow points cause less suffering. Generally, an attacker will stop with one or maybe two shots, rather than me having to shoot him multiple times and still have my life in danger from a crazed madman who is attacking me.

    The military uses FMJ because NATO demands it. Local Police officers carry JHP's because they are more effective and safer to surrounding citizens as they have a far less chance of overpenatrating and causing damage to others.

    As far as 'why didn't you reload your own ammo to save money'....Sir, I can save money in a lot of ways, but when it comes to protecting my family or my own life, I trust the ammo manufacturers to get things right. I reload target ammunition because I shoot a lot of it, and my life doesn't depend on it. These rounds in question are for one purpose. To defend my life in a critical situation. I prefer to not take any chances. I could use a rope in my car to tie myself in, but I trust the manufactered seat belt more than I do my own rope knots.
  19. graehaven

    graehaven Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Well said.
  20. cakes

    cakes New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Messages:
    230
    Location:
    Northern Maine
    The major problems with reloads is the ability to compare data for testing? That seems easy enough to overcome. Make sure you have plenty of the loads available so the tests can be performed.


    When the 'deadliness' issue came up it was easily defeated.

    I don't see any valid reasons here to refrain from using reloads for self defense.
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons Reloads for self defence Nov 4, 2009
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons reloads for cc Feb 13, 2009
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons Against the Odds...Woman prevails with .22lr Aug 9, 2012
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons My Wife Is Against Carrying Conceald! Nov 1, 2011
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons Best Self Defense against dogs Aug 8, 2008