In response to the nifty article written by Z.T. I believe I have something to add:
Bill Wilson used to sell a great pamphlet on the care and feeding of 1911s. He specifically addressed hollowpoint reloading vs ball reloading. In it the physical path and critical feed angles were discussed, as well as what a reloader should do if reloading semi-wadcutter or hollowpoint ammo. I’d get into it, but I’m pretty certain it’s copyrighted – I don’t think they sell the pamphlet anymore but it’s still his intellectual property. In a nutshell, if you’re going to reload hollowpoint ammo, you need to load to a slightly longer OAL because of the spot on the bullet where it actually hits the feed ramp is different due to the bullet profile – hitting it later in the slide cycle, essentially, and losing enough energy to create the slightly out of battery condition that’s a plague to 1911s. There is also a solution that entails checking the feed lip profile for your magazines and either reshaping them to ensure accurate feeding. I have a nice pile of 1911s of all flavors in existence because I like them. The gun I carry is one I started shooting 15 years ago and it’s ratty and ugly – and it has my complete confidence.
The other issue in the article had to do with his former habit of buying 50 rounds of standard ball ammo and 20 rounds of “defensive” ammo. Arrggh!.
We as a shooting community have been plagued by the marketing divisions of the various ammo manufacturers since the invention of the original “magic” Federal Hydra-Shok. [JWR Adds: That actually dates back to the days of Super-Vel brand ammo, in the 1960s.] They package them in smaller quantities and put fancy names on them – then double the price, ostensibly because they’re “more effective” against goblins. Police after-action shootout reports do not emphasize this, but they do prove something – there is no such thing as a magic bullet. These same “magic” bullets are also sold to law enforcement agencies, but miraculously, they also package them in 50 round boxes and sell them for maybe 20 percent more than ball ammo. And we continue to buy “magic ammo” in small quantities. There is nothing more important that being confident in your ability to hit what you aim at and the reliability of your chosen firearm. The only thing that will give you that is lots and lots of rounds downrange, and if you’re using “magic bullets” you probably can’t afford to do so – so you “compromise” and do what Z.T. described. I see in everywhere in the civilian shooting community.
The single greatest impact you can have on your ability to survive a deadly attack with your firearm is continual and copious practice under varying conditions and varying environments, you should get muddy, sunburned, out-of-breath, bruised, frustrated and way out of your comfort zone as much as you possibly can. Putting 0 rounds downrange once a month in an air-conditioned shooting club is no substitute, it’s not even “better than nothing” because your expectations of an encounter as such that the static nature of a typical range will actually work against you when you have to make real tactical decisions when defending your life. Almost all the public ranges I’ve been to prohibit drawing from a holster, moving forward or backward or laterally, or at any angle other than from a fully standing position. There are reasons for this that make sense for a range owner, and I’m not advocating a change in these rules – I agree with their rationale. What I’m saying is that you need to seek out range experiences that allow you to do all the things you might need to do when defending your life. If your choice is 50 rounds a month at a static range or nothing, I’d suggest the latter. I’ve put countless people through stress simulation drills who have spent, in some cases, 20 or more years doing static target shooting – and without exception they all failed to achieve any sort of accuracy (center of mass) when stressed, even when the stress was so little as five pushups or starting with an unknown (to them) empty firearm.
The lesson I got from Z.T.’s article simply reinforced what I’ve already learned: training trumps equipment. The Boers knew it, survivors of violent encounters know it – we need to embrace it and find ways to avoid the type of thinking the marketing people at ammunition manufacturers want us to think. If there was a “magic bullet” like the pre-fragmented kind of Magsafe, etc… and they were that effective – then wouldn’t you think they’d be the only kind of ammo out there? In general the firearms “review” we read are conducted by someone who got his or her ammunition for free – so of course it’s going to be described as the best thing out there. Yeah, yeah, I know Box O’ Truth and some others don’t do that – but they aren’t as widely read as the typical gun writer in the magazines and articles we read in the mainstream. Forget believing that there is any difference in hollowpoint and ball ammo, no hollowpoint in the world is going to make up for bad shot placement – if you can’t train with the ammo you’re going to carry (because it’s too expensive to do so) then abandon it and train with what you carry – it will give you the confidence in your equipment that you need to face a violent encounter, and that confidence is essential. – Jim H. in Colorado