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Roll your own carry loads

Good discussion:

conventional wisdom says this is a bad idea, because a prosecutor could try to argue in court that you custom made an extra lethal load, and your hand loads won’t be as reliable as factory ammo.

15 Responses to “Roll your own carry loads”

  1. m4finny Says:

    I just don’t do it. I’ve read both sides of the argument and both parties make good points. Problem is, neither will be at any trial where I may be the defendant in a justified self defense shooting. Arguing about this topic is useless IMHO. Let every man stand his ground on the issue and live or die by his decision.

  2. ben Says:

    Right. My decision is to roll my own, as I can then practice with them more, as they cost less per round. I’ve had zero reliability issues, and the hypothetical A-hole prosecutor can bite me as I simply load them to the recommended specs from data published by the bullet/powder companies.

    “Custom made extra lethal load,” heh. Just about the only “extra lethal load” you could custom make is one that is lethal to yourself because it’s too hot and blows your gun apart. A person can buy +P ammo for 9mm and .45, so where’s the extra lethality going to come from exactly?

  3. Chas Says:

    5th Generation T-Series

    How can anybody beat this with a home reload? It’s like a sideways flying buzz saw with ninja blades.

  4. Rivrdog Says:

    Carry what the cops carry? Because they have the best “stopping” rounds?

    Don’t kid yourself.

    When I was a new Deputy, in my third year of service (1975), a Sheriff was appointed (we didn’t elect them then, do now) who was from, ah, the “ghetto”. At his swearing-in newser, some reporter writing for a back-alley anarchist rag asked him if he was going to make his men stop carrying “dum-dum bullets”. The Sheriff, not to be outdone by his anarchist friend, said HIS Deputies wouldn’t carry ANY such ammo, and shortly, our .357 125-gr JHP ammo went away, and we went back to an old standard, 148-grain LSWC. That round will go though a car, kill the driver, exit the car and kill a baby in the nearest home.

    I did the research, with the help of the LEAA, on penetration of available rounds, and was FINALLY (almost a year later) able to get the force switched over to a 158-gr jacketed soft-nose, which was as “expand-able” as the Sheriff would go.

    BTW, at the same time, we were carrying Remington 760 30-06 patrol rifles with military ball, and shotguns with 00-Buck Magnum loads or slugs. Go figure.

    The cops don’t always carry the best load. Don’t depend on them for advice.

  5. Lyle Says:

    You’re using off-the-shelf bullets, off-the-shelf powder, and off-the-shelf cases either way, right, unless you’re making your own components?

    Henkly tried to make exploding .22 pistol bullets to kill president Reagan, but I doubt that had any bearing on his eventual court ruling, unless it was to drive the point home that he’s a loon.

    Anyway; IF it could save the life of just one child, wouldn’t you load your own defense ammo?

  6. Mikee Says:

    Mas Ayoob promotes the idea that handloads should not be used for self defense because doing so allows an unscrupulous prosecutor to imply to the jury that the handloads were made to be exceptionally lethal, suggesting the self-defense shooter was actually out to kill the person shot.

    While a competent lawyer could work a jury through this, Mas’ point is to keep things simple. It seems easier if one can say, “I used self defense ammo – says so right on the box – optimized to stop an attack without over-penetrating and putting others at additional risk.”

  7. Jay Says:

    One would think that an autopsy would be performed and the performance of the handloaded ammunition compared with factory ammunition to prove that nothing was out of the ordinary.

    XX bullet of xx caliber penetrated xx depth on xx trajectory which jives with what the .gov’s agencies have on record as typical of xx caliber ammunition using xx bullet type.

    Make em prove it was “extra lethal”.

  8. SPQR Says:

    You’d think wrong, Jay. The medical examiner does not work for the defense attorney.

  9. Laughingdog Says:

    Regarding comment 3:

    After looking at that listing, I am reminded of a question I’ve always had. Why does almost everyone think you have to be 21 to buy handgun ammunition?

    That’s not what the law says. Federal law states that a licensed dealer/collector cannot sell ammunition to anyone under 21 if it is used EXCLUSIVELY by handguns. If you aren’t a dealer/collector, that law doesn’t apply to you. If there is any rifle/carbine out there that can use that ammunition, that law law doesn’t apply to you.

  10. FatWhiteMan Says:

    I think a lot of time people may miss the point on Ayoob’s caution here. The prosecuting attorney is not going to spend tons of money on ballistic tests with your handloads to prove they were super ninja extra death bullets. In fact, more than likely a prosecutor is going to be more concerned with proving that you were not justified in using deadly force. I doubt you will find one that will make the argument that your use of deadly force was not warranted because your choice in ammunition was more deadly than the normal level of deadly in the deadly use of force.

    I believe that Ayoob was cautioning against what the civil lawyers would do to paint you as a madman intent on killing their poor victim that never meant to harm you when they were breaking into your home. They will say that you are so obsessed that you even made your own special bullets. After all, who loads their own ammo? That is just for hard-core gun nuts. There is a good chance that the 4 avid NRA lifetime members that you managed to get on the jury don’t handload.

    Then what about the lawsuit from the innocent bystander behind the bad guy. If you hadn’t have chosen that particular bullet or that particular powder, it would never have penetrated the bad guy and killed poor Aunt Molly. Never mind you could make the same argument about the selection of your handgun or chambering all day long.

    I believe that the point Ayoob argues in not choosing handloads for carry is meant to give less ammo to the civil plaintiff rather than concerning yourself with the prosecutor. The civil trial does not need to rely as heavily on facts nor does it even need resonable doubt. In a lot of states the majority will due. Further, the amount of time or money invested in running all of those ballistics tests is soley at the discretion of the plaintiff and how much return on their investment they think they can get.

    Do I agree with Ayoob? I certainly see his point but then I have carried reloads myself. Rather I agree or not, do not discount his logic based upon what a prosecutor would do. I think his caution was meant more for the sharks afterwards.

  11. Lyle Says:

    You bought a gun (not for killing?) learned to use it defensively (not for killing?) loaded it (not for shooting someone?) carried it (not for shooting someone?) and then you either were or were not justified in using lethal force.

    Ayoob’s caution was written at least 15 years ago (that’s about when I first read it, and it was in a well-worn book I’d borrowed) and things were very, very different back then on the national scene. I’d be interested in knowing what he has to say today.

    Personally I carry run-of-the-mill, factory-made, extra super ultra deadly killer rounds, useful only for calculated, pre-meditated, cold-blooded murder-by-intent, but to each her own.

  12. Clint Says:

    Actually hollowpoints are anti-murder, and that is easy to explain to a jury. If you do it right you can even make the prosecutor look like he does not know what he is talking about.

    The biggest reason Mas says to use factory ammo is the Gun Shot Residue can only help you in a good SD shoot. GSR can collaborate your story.

    Handloads have a problem of GSR info. The CSI guys don’t have any and even if you have a mag full of samples 1) they probably will not be allowed to be tested or the data won’t be admissible and 2) there is NO WAY to prove the shot you did fire was loaded the same as the rounds in the mag. Thugs tend to use a mix of different bullets in their guns. Some HP some FMJ. Yes this is different from handloads but the DA can easily say the round you shot was different from the ammo in the magazine. And I know a guy who always loads the top round in his mag (his second shot) with a Black Talon. It would be better for him to just load the gun with Rangers.

    There are a lot of stupid people int eh world. Why give the DA a chance to say you’re one of them?

  13. Jay Says:

    SPQR: I know the medical examiner doesn’t work for the defense attorney… but the prosecutor has to make a case, does he not? Like I said, make them prove it was “extra lethal”.

    Data is readily available from .gov agencies that show the typical performance of standard ammunition. That’s what your defense attorney uses.

  14. Ritchie Says:

    I’ve had to come up with “less lethal” handloads for mom’s .38 snubbie (she doesn’t need it anymore) because it is limited to standard velocity per the owners manual.

  15. pax Says:

    Good comment from Clint above.

    The common wisdom among online gunnies is that all you have to do is have a “good shoot” and questions like this just won’t come up. True enough, as far as it goes. The difficulty is that the very question of whether it’s a “good shoot” or not often hinges on physical evidence at the scene. If the physical evidence supports a claim of self-defense and supports your story, you’ll be in the clear. If it doesn’t, you won’t. Simple!

    But between those two extremes, there’s plenty of room for ambiguity.

    If the physical evidence is even a little unclear, or the story at all questionable in any way, it’s very likely that the prosecutor will decide to file charges and let a jury settle it. Once the system has decided to go forward with a prosecution, the entire investigation will be focused on finding inculpatory evidence (evidence that tends to support guilt) and will ignore exculpatory evidence (evidence that tends to support innocence). Which in turn means that it’s often difficult to get exculpatory evidence admitted at trial, particularly evidence you literally manufactured yourself. The handloads themselves were manufactured by you, and the scrupulously-careful records you keep (you do keep careful reloading records, right?) were also manufactured by you.

    While whatever’s left of the load in your carry gun will be admitted into evidence, assuming you didn’t fire the gun dry during the encounter, it’s not likely to do you any good if any part of your defense case hinges on ballistics, residue, or related questions. That’s because your lawyer probably will not be able to convince the court to tear those rounds apart to weigh the powder or to allow you to fire them to test the residues that will build your case — since doing either of those things would literally destroy the evidence and there are all sorts of legal precedents about that. At the same time, your lawyer will also find it impossible to convince the judge to admit your handloading records as “proof” of what the rounds in your carry gun actually consisted of. You wrote those records yourself, after all, so that’s kind of like writing your own excuse note at school, not “proof” of anything at all. So if you ever need ballistic or residue evidence (as you very likely will — in the very, very unlikely event you’re involved in a court case to begin with), but you carry handloaded ammunition, you’ve just shut off a major source of evidence that might have been critical to your legal defense.

    Here’s a quote from LFI-1: “Know where the attack will come, and have a counter already in place.” Mas uses that line a lot, especially when he points out that lawyers cost a fortune. Every minute of time you can save your lawyer is an extra pile of cash you don’t have to pay out. Furthermore, even a good lawyer can have a bad day, and forget to counter something the prosecution brings up in court.

    Could an overzealous prosecutor try to get a jury riled up & worried about the type of ammunition you use? Of course one could. It might a fairly simple problem to counter, from an experienced defense lawyer’s perspective – but I’ve heard more than one experienced lawyer comment that ANY issue they have to counter in open court can create doubt in the minds of the jury and bias the jury against the defense. If the opponent creates enough doubt on enough different fronts, you lose your case.

    So back to knowing where an attack will come and having a counter in place: it’s not so difficult to practice with a handload that perfectly emulates your factory defense load, and then use the matched factory load for carry. You get the benefit of practicing with ammunition that is ballistically identical to your carry load, but miles cheaper. And you get the insurance factor of having easily admissible evidence on your side should you ever need it. Keeping your legal self-defense options open is probably worth it.