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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, May 5th, 2017

For years, I’ve warned people that there are a couple of serious concerns with using handloaded ammunition for personal or home defense.  The big one is forensic replicability when the shooter is accused, and opposing theories of distance become a factor.

How often does this happen? One time some years ago, that question came up on an internet debate.  I looked through the ten cases I had pending at the time as an expert witness, and gunshot residue (GSR) testing to determine distance from gun muzzle to the person shot was an issue in four of them.  Forty percent is not what I’d call statistically insignificant.

I’ve found this to be perhaps the most visceral and contentious of gun forum debates. When I suggest to someone that the ammo he crafted himself might be a handicap in court, it’s as if they had just prepared a Thanksgiving feast for their family from scratch, and I’d told them “Don’t poison your family with that crap, go out and buy them some KFC.”

They react as if you had told them they had ugly babies.

Here are two very good writeups, at least one by an attorney, explaining how and why handloaded ammunition can muddy the waters if and when you find yourself in court after a self-defense shooting:


Read, and if you have any friends who use handloads for serious social purposes, please share. You might just save them from the sort of nightmare suffered by the defendant in New Jersey v. Daniel Bias, who was bankrupted by legal fees before the first of his three trials was over, and wound up serving hard time.  Both of his attorneys were convinced he was innocent, and told me they believed that if he had simply had factory ammo in his home defense gun, the case would probably never have even gone to trial.

Discussion is invited here, but PLEASE, read and absorb the two links before posting.


  1. Two-gun Steve Says:

    This is kind of in the same vein as carrying a double-action-only or Safe-Action handgun, which I usually do, in order to avoid negative legal issues in case of a need to shoot. The safest things to do legally in this moment seem to be to shoot until the poor shootee stops kicking, making sure there are plenty of powder burns, and to carry only “factory” loads. Is this the way of justice?

    Might one angle of defense be to argue that use of factory loads is a blatant form of discrimination against providers of hand-loading equipment and supplies, who could possibly even be some kind of special category of human being? Man. what about black powder handguns?

  2. Gary L Griffiths Says:

    Back in the day, I carried handloaded ammunition in my defensive weapons because there were no effective JHP factory loads available for .45 ACP and 9mm autoloaders (this is when Super-Vel was just coming out in .38 Spl). Nowadays, however, there are excellent proven defensive rounds available in all service calibers available from Federal, Remington, Speer, Winchester, and other commercial ammunition companies. I no longer believe that I can handload anything more reliable or effective than the premium factory defensive ammo that is now available.

  3. Bruce Gordon Says:

    This type of Prosecution is what one can expect from a IDIOT State like NJ….
    You get the Statutes you deserve by electing the Idiots you vote for…. A prosecution like this would NEVER even happen in my State…. Alaska especially if it happen out here in the bush….

  4. Roger Willco Says:

    Thanks, Mas. From all I’ve read, handloading ammunition seems to be a “yes-yes” for long-range rifle shooting, and a “no-no” for self-defense.

    Your mention of “New Jersey versus Daniel Bias” reminds me of an article I read recently. One of the NRA’s magazines, “America’s First Freedom,” has an article in the May 2017 issue about some really scary cases that happened in gun paranoid New Jersey. It begins on page 44. The title is “New Jersey: The Poster Child for National Reciprocity.” The tyranny of law enforcement in that state reminds me of Kim Jong Un, or some fourth world country. I mean, it’s worse than the third world, so it must be the fourth world.

    I wish I could ruin the careers of the arresting cops, and the prosecutors, and the judges who terrorize innocent people who are simply using their God-given right to self-defense. The legal people follow the letter of the law as though they were machines or computer programs. They don’t think, and they have evil hearts. How do they look good in the eyes of their bosses? But what can I do? I will sit here, and return to my quiet, peaceful life. NJ has got to change. When the pendulum swings to one extreme, it is about to change direction.

  5. Roger Willco Says:

    I realize how the NJ legalists can treat innocent victims like violent criminals. They are……….”just following orders,” like the jack-booted thugs at the Nuremberg Trials.

  6. Steve from MA Says:

    “The safest things to do legally in this moment seem to be to shoot until the poor shootee stops kicking, making sure there are plenty of powder burns”. I thought that also but didn’t someone in Maine go to jail because the DA said the bad guy had already been stopped by the first round and the second tap was murder?

  7. Craig Brownell Says:

    Since 1968, I have advised my students, including LEOs, to confine hand-loaded/reloaded ammunition to the practice range. More recently, my advice and admonitions include what the manufacturer chooses to name their product. By way of example, Hornady ammunition labeled Critical Defense would likely sit much more favorably with a jurist/jury than their product named ZombieMax.

    Similarly, consider a jury’s opinion if your family Rottweiler “Petunia” or “Crunch-N-Munch” were up on a child-bite case.

    Emotions are everything in court. Think Ahead.

  8. Jonathan Says:

    Frankly no matter what the leanings of the state in which one lives they need to be prepared for the worst case scenario of a liberal DA and jury. Hand loads are great for certain purposes such as competitions, target practice(separate from defensive use practice), hunting, and general plinking. But to risk the freedom of yourself, or possibly a family member in the case of a home defense gun, as well as your families financial security is just irresponsible and foolish. This is hand loading which at best is MAYBE a bit of an art but it’s a far cry from your grandmothers secret recipes and to act like it’s anything else is to be in denial.

  9. Ron Says:

    Sorry, I am not going to live in fear of what some “legal eagle” may attempt to fabricate against me.

    I was attacked and used lethal force, lawfully too, and now the thing I have to fear the most is my ammo choice??

    This attitude is plain old fear. If you are that afraid then don’t have a gun at your side.

    The factor in question here is that of handloads. There also seems to be this underlying attitude that one is “safe” as long as s/he uses commercially produced ammo?!?! Then what is to stop that same “legal eagle” from declaring that you bought you commercially produced ammo based upon a velocity/power level??!! It was a known “manstopper”.

    I look in the Statutes of my State and see not one word about prohibited ammo. There are plenty of “illegal firearms” (NFA items & the likes) and even shotgun rounds, etc. Still can’t see even a word on handloaded ammo.

    Color me skeptical.

  10. Dennis Says:

    Roger Willco,

    I understand your frustration and anger, and I suspect there are those that live in these jurisdictions that share your beliefs, but I would suggest that a majority in these areas support those laws and prosecutions.

    I personally have never been to New Jersey. I know many who have. I’ve been told that it has some of the most beautiful countryside you’ll ever see, but at the same time, the nastiest cities with some of the rudest people you’ll ever meet. People that live in these places must either agree with the politics, or see more benefits in staying than fleeing.

    Having said that, we live in a constitutional republic, made up of individual states that have bound themselves together under a constitution that guarantees certain inalienable rights. That is why Trump’s kept promise of appointing a conservative/originalist supreme court justice is central to a return to sanity when travelling from state to state.

    In the meantime, common sense tells me to avoid states such as these the same as you won’t catch me walking the the streets of south Chicago after dark.

  11. TW Says:

    Mas, you don’t have to convince me. I’ve known for decades to avoid handloading for self-defense. My first exposure to this rule was probably in one of your books you wrote back in the ’80s.

    Back in those days, the gun hating prosecutors were everywhere. You didn’t want to be described in court as the guy that found “factory ammo not good enough – you had to concoct your own recipe that was extra deadly to be sure you killed the victim” (ad infinitum).

    There are just too many bad things that can happen to you (post-shooting) if you use your handloads. I’ll stick with premium factory which is very reliable and effective. My lawyer can also point out that it is the same ammo the police use, as well.

  12. Mas Says:

    Ron, who is asking you to live in fear? Please, actually read the links to see what the issues really are, and then get back to us.

  13. Ron Says:

    I did read the accounts,,, and many more that I could find.

    From what I can see the issue in NJ v Bias was whether the victim’s death was suicide, blameless accident, manslaughter, or murder. For some (unknown to me) the testing needed to duplicate handloads was never done??

    So attempting to replicate the gunshot residue found on the victim and Bias “became” the “muddy issue”.

    I have a close friend who works for a very well known commercial ammo manufacturer. I vividly remember a few years back when gunpowder was as rare as hen’s teeth he told me of the desperate scrambles they were going through in attempts to obtain ANY powder simply to load rounds and get them cash registers ringing. He further told me that the engineers of that company were full of fear & lost in what was going on. I wonder how that would play out?

    Therein lays the problem,,, “muddy issues”. And an over zealous prosecutor can CREATE dozens of em, I’m sure. Casting doubt & jading the truth is what they do best.

    I submit that there is no legitimate “self defense case” in which a defendant has been convicted because off the ammunition they carried. If I am wrong, so be it.

    There are SOO many other factors to be concerned with in a self defense situation (in my lowly opinion) and ammo is not one I will waste time upon.

    There are thousands of directions that “muddy issues” can be thrown at one. I just don’t think I will subscribe to the absolute statement of not using handloads.

    If a shoot is righteous,and the defender successfully maintains true self defense throughout the situation, it matters not what ammo is involved. I seriously doubt there is no SD statute in the country (exception granted to New Jersey if they still ban hollow points) that says anything about what you may or may not use to defend yourself.

  14. Bob San Socie Says:

    When I was a young kid working in a 24/7 Mini Market, the store owner told me to spend some time reading gun magazines so I could ID what was shoved in my face. Yep, it happened! He also had the place wired 50 ways from Sunday to trigger silent alarms. Police station was only 300 years away. Go figure. That is how I came to know Mr. Ayoob’s writings in the 1970’s. NEVER used anything but factory loads for defense. I want science and public perception on my side. I will handload for paper but not for carry. Can you load at home to very high standards? Yes. But, remember how a jury will see you. I do not plan to have a jury of my peers. Most will be people that have never shot a gun and are scared of them. Just the facts of our world today. Thanks for all the great work Mr. Ayoob! May we never et in court.

  15. TN_MAN Says:

    Given the improvements in factory ammo, especially in handgun defensive ammo, over the last couple of decades, it simply make sense to use it. Not just because of the legal aspects but for practical performance as well.

    I will grant you that, several decades ago, it made sense to use handloaded ammo even for defense. The factory ammo available at that time (FMJ “hardball” for the semi-automatics or lead round nose bullets for revolvers) was not of the best. A careful handloader could certainly improve upon the factory ammo available at that time.

    However, today, scientific testing and performance standards (FBI Protocol, etc.) have produced factory ammo that makes the old factory rounds look like something from the Jurassic. It is doubtful that even a careful handloader can do a whole lot to improve on the premium handgun ammo being commercially produced in the USA today.

    Factor in the possible legal problems (which I regard as unlikely but possible) associated with handloads and it becomes a “no-brainer” to stick with premium factory ammo for defensive use.

    Handloads still have their uses for target shooting, practice and for most hunting (except maybe for dangerous game) but, IMHO, they are less than ideal for defensive use. Note, that I am expressing this opinion DESPITE being a experienced handloader who loves to craft ammo for range use.

  16. Tom in NC Says:

    Ron – i will grant you that there are many cases of self defense shootings where there are more important issues than what ammo is used. Just like there are many cases where having a backup gun is not relevant, etc. All of these arguments come down to what is statistically significant to a given person and situation. I personally would like to tilt the odds in my favor as much as possible, and in the case of ammo selection, I do not see any penalty at all for using only factory ammo for my carry guns and see a possible benefit (even if quite remote). And it isn’t about fear, it’s about trying to control as many variables as possible. Lawyers call that risk management. But of course, YMMV. Just thankful we live where we can both make that choice (IOW, not NJ).

    Bob – “Police station was only 300 years away.” Dang, man, that has to be the worst response time I have ever heard of! Where do you live? 🙂

  17. Parson45 Says:

    This is an issue that I had not even considered until I read about it in one of Mas’s books or articles years ago. It seems to me to be just logical to follow the simplest path. There could be a considerable number of problems legal and financial after a self defense shooting. Why take a chance on adding to them? Today’s ammunition is as good or perhaps even better than anything I can hand load, and I have been handloading since 1971.

    Some of my hunting rifles have never seen a factory load. But myself defense handguns only see handloads in practice or hunting.

  18. tc Says:

    All that SHOULD matter is whether the shooting was justified by the circumstances. In the real world, when the ambulance-chasers start their fun & games, you never know what could become an issue. I would rather not make it any easier for the opposition.

    I would hate to have to convince a jury that my homemade ammunition was somehow better than professionally-produced ammo made by a major company like Winchester or Remington. And, if you use the same type of ammunition as the local law enforcement agency, your lawyer might even be able to call their armorer to testify. “We chose the Federal jacketed hollow point because it has adequate stopping power, and it reduces the risk of stray bullets hitting bystanders, because it does not over-penetrate.”

    I suppose using the same equipment as the police might allow a prosecutor (or a plaintiff’s lawyer) to portray a defendant as a “wanna-be cop,” but everything is a trade-off.

  19. Sevesteen Says:

    It is likely that a modern premium commercial ammo will be more reliable and effective than my handloads. There are a few people with enough skill at handloading that their ammo is more reliable and effective than major brands of premium ammo. There are a lot of people who mistakenly think they can make better ammo than premium commercial brands. Even without the legal issues I’ll stick to modern commercial ammo.

  20. Jack Says:

    It’s a shame that the ammunition you use gets you convicted of defensive shooting. How very sad is that?

  21. Dennis Says:

    I have great faith in modern factory ammunition. This was not, however, always the case.

    When I started my law enforcement career in 1970, our department issued SW mod 10 .38 spec revolvers and furnished Remington 158 gr round nose lead “Police” ammo for duty carry. Rookies were required to carry this issue revolver and ammo for their first year. After this probationary period you were given much greater leeway in weapons and ammo.

    Ironically, even though we had to carry the factory Remington ammo on duty, departmental qualifications were done with reload wad-cutters produced by our range officers. Cost savings for the city, don’t you know.

    Officers could purchase factory duty ammo for practice from the quartermaster unit for $5 a box. As a rookie, I purchased several boxes for practice use, as I didn’t reload at the time and this was cheaper than I could buy anywhere else. It was an eye opener. At least one out of ten rounds were squibs, failing to even reach the target at 25 yards. During that same period, several officer involved gunfights using this factory “Police” loading, resulted in wounds with less than 2″ penetration.

    I, like many senior officers who still carried the city issued weapons, started carrying the range reloaded wad-cutters because they were so much more consistent in performance.

    I realize that the factory ammo I’m relating this story about was low bid, but Remington was manufacturing it and putting their name on it. To this day when I buy factory defensive ammo, I buy at least 4 boxes, chronograph at least 5 rounds from each box, and relegate to practice fodder any box that performs noticeably less consistently.

    Yes, I only carry factory ammo to town.

  22. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Ron said, “no SD statute in the country … that says anything about what you may or may not use to defend yourself.” The very fact that you say that, twice, means that you’re missing the point. Those same statutes _do_ set standards about your mental state and your belief and intent and those don’t mention your ammo, either, but your ammo can have an effect on how a jury evaluates those issues. Inconsistency on residue testing can bear on the issue of whether or not you were really close enough to the guy with the knife to have a reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; the fact that you were using rounds named “Vigilante Special” or “Decapitator” or “The Executioner” can also bear on the issue of whether you were in reasonable fear or looking for an excuse to “defend” yourself. You can stand up at that point and proclaim that no statute regulates the ammo you can use for SD, but the answer is going to be “you’re right, but so what, neither is there any statute that says your choice of ammo can’t be taken into consideration”.

    You’re right, there are a gazillion “factors to be concerned with in a self defense situation” but you can control some of them and some you can’t. This is one that you can and can do easily, relatively inexpensively, without increased physical risk, and in advance. Why wouldn’t you?

  23. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Jack said, “It’s a shame that the ammunition you use gets you convicted of defensive shooting. How very sad is that?” As has been pointed out here numbers of times, guns — and by extension ammo — don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s not your ammo that will get you convicted, it’s what your _choice_ of ammo says about you and/or what your _choice_ of ammo is going to help you prove or disprove. I’ll concede that it may be a little sad that something that you didn’t think about much at the time you made the choice or didn’t even know to think about at the time you made the choice can rise up and bite you like this, but consider this: When you choose to carry a firearm for self-defense you’re engaging in a practice whose outcome, if you ever need to employ it, is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. And if that occurs every choice you made that relates in any way to that is going to be, and should be, open to scrutiny. When that’s the case, you can’t be very sad when _any_ of those choices are, in fact, scrutinized: you should have been expecting it. That’s why Mas counsels caution on these things, teaches a complex and thorough course on SD, and named his first book “In the Gravest Extreme”: Nothing you do or choose to do while or in preparation for carrying a firearm should be done without thorough — some might say exhaustive — education, training, and, most important, consideration and thought. Those who think that they should be able to carry for SD willy-nilly in blithe ignorance of anything more than which end of the gun the bullet comes out of are living in a fool’s paradise.

  24. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Utterly, wholly, and egregiously off-topic: We’ve discussed here several times errors and fantasies about guns perpetuated on TV and in the movies. I think I have a new one. I was flipping through the channels the other night and came upon a zombie movie in which a decaying zombie — these were thinking and talking zombies — fired a revolver — it looked like a stainless .357 — at a person.

    My first impression was that rather than the bullet hitting the person, the recoil from the shot caused the gun to flip around and shoot the zombie in the head, not with a second shot, but with the first, ignoring the fact that the recoil action would (a) not have been anywhere near that strong and, more importantly, (b) that the bullet would have exited long before the gun could have moved that far. I rewound the scene and watched it again. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong. At least sorta pleased.

    What actually happened was that the recoil ripped the zombies hand off at his forearm, causing the gun (still clutched in the severed hand) to flip around and bury the barrel of the gun in the zombie’s face and brain far enough to kill the zombie. I’m very glad that it was more realistic than I first thought. (ROFLMAO)

  25. Dave Says:

    “I submit that there is no legitimate “self defense case” in which a defendant has been convicted because off the ammunition they carried. ”

    Doesn’t matter That isn’t the point, at all. A casual reading of either of the links will tell one why.

    The issues are (1) whether the distance of a shooting is in dispute and is important to the case; (2) whether GSR pattern evidence could shed light on that question; and (3) whether expert witness testimony on that issue would be admissible.

  26. Dennis Says:

    Liberal Dave,

    It’s not just Zombies……….


  27. Tahn Says:

    Considering the advise Mas and others have given, it would make sense to carry proven ammo with positive names, such as ‘Glaser Safety Slugs’ (for revolvers). Any other “positive brand names” around, that also have a track record of competence?

    I know that the forensic evidence should corroborate all testimony. What Dave says makes sense. “The issues are (1) whether the distance of a shooting is in dispute and is important to the case; (2) whether GSR pattern evidence could shed light on that question; and (3) whether expert witness testimony on that issue would be admissible.”

    Regardless, I’ll listen to Mas’ advise on this. Thanks.

  28. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Dennis, that second one could have almost reproduced what I saw in that movie if the kid had been rotten enough.

  29. TRX Says:

    The key item at both links seems to be “gunshot residue” for evidentiary purposes.

    If you consider that important, you might want to make sure that you’re not only carrying commercial ammunition, but something that’s still in production, or popular enough the lab might have data on it if not.

    That box of Turbo Ninja Death Blasters from some long-out-of-business tiny manufacturer back in 1996 might be “commercially loaded ammunition”, but if you don’t have enough of it left for them to use to populate their database, they might as well be handloads.

    Same for Fat Eddie’s Cheap Stuff down at the local gun shop, “no two boxes quite the same”.

  30. Jim Abraham Says:

    Ron, Your lengthy comments have done nothing to convince me of the wisdom of using handloads for self-defense, quite the opposite in fact. You fail to make an even remotely convincing case.

    We have PLENTY of good quality factory loads available for our self-defense firearms. I personally carry what the local cops in my city carry. Why? If those are the rounds the local experts have chosen to protect me and my family, those are the rounds I will use to do the same.

  31. Dan Says:

    The problem is NOT one of handloads vs factory, Double action vs safe action,
    semi auto vs revolver or any other physical factor. The problem in America is a government and “legal” (sic) system hell bent on punishing INNOCENT CIVILIANS whenever and wherever possible for having the gall and temerity to
    do what the government CANNOT DO….and doesn’t care to do…..protect us from violent predators. Till we make it politically UNTENABLE for elected officials to persecute people for defending themselves they will continue to do so because it is expedient politically and it salves their communistic mentality.

  32. Ray Says:

    I don’t live in New Jersey, OR New yak or any other anti freedom communist party paradise. I live in a commonwealth with one of the strongest stand your ground laws in America. As long as I act within that law I could load anything I wanted too without fear of persecution. Mr. Ayoob .Please stop with the fear mongering. You were never a LEO or a lawyer so unless you have a degree in something other than being a Know it all. Knock it off. You don’t have anymore of a “clue” than anyone else. AND: When did opinion forums like “Glock Talk” and “The High Road” become fact reference? If you could enlighten with more than opinion and fear mongering that would help. But having read you before this I know you can’t and won’t.

  33. Mas Says:

    Welcome, Ray. It will be fun if you stay here longer than your first post, above. We rarely get such full-blown trolls as you here, and it spices up the level of conversation.

    You might want to wipe some of the foam off your mouth and do a little research. I recognize the strong possibility that research is something with which you are unfamiliar, but somewhere in your commonwealth there should be an adult extension learning program that can help. There also seems to be a strong possibility that you need help in reading comprehension, and there are lots of programs that may be able to help you with that, too.

    Another class you’d benefit from would be Logic 101. Logic would have taught you that the explanations of the rules of evidence explained in the two cited links, one by a practicing attorney and prosecutor and the other by a very serious and respected student of the gun, could have been easily verified by you, once you grasp the concept of that “research” thing I was talking about.

  34. TN_MAN Says:

    Several commentators have mentioned that they not only use commercial, premium ammo for self-defense but they also take care to use the exact same ammo as their local police department.

    I know that this is often proposed and that Mas has even written an article advocating this approach. See this link:

    For myself, I am not as enthusiastic about this idea. There are several problems with this approach:

    1) It is not always easy to KNOW what the local police carry. Most police departments do not go out-of-their-way to advertise the exact brand, caliber and type of ammo that they issue to their officers.
    2) They may use a type of “Law-Enforcement Only” ammo that is not generally available to the general public.
    3) Even if one can identify the exact ammo and it is available to the general public, using it LIMITS one to the same caliber as the police use. One may not want to be so limited. If the police use a powerful round, suitable for a service size handgun, but you then try to use it in a compact handgun suitable for concealed carry, then you may be forcing yourself to deal with a lot of extra muzzle blast and recoil. You simply may not be able to shoot this LE ammo very effectively in a compact, concealed carry handgun.
    4) LE Ammo is generally designed to defeat a number of tough barriers. This is because a cop may be placed in many different situations. Generally, a private citizen, interested only in self-defense, does not need this level of barrier penetration. He typically only needs to defeat heavy clothing at the most. By using LE ammo, he may be increasing the danger of over-penetration while giving up some immediate stopping power. I am not sure that is a trade that I want to make.
    5) Finally, in court, it may leave you open to charges of trying to be a “wannabe cop”.

    So, this is one point where I rather disagree with Mas. I see the situation of self-defense for a private citizen as a rather different one as that of the LE Officer. I think the ammo, in general, ought to have different goals and be designed to a different standard.

    I generally carry Hornady Critical Defense ammo in my concealed carry firearms. It is NOT what my local police department carries. I use different calibers compared with my local police department and I want ammo, such as these Hornady loads, designed for citizen self-defense. I am not looking for ammo that can defeat multiple barriers at the price of high muzzle blast and heavy recoil.

  35. MichaelJT Says:

    Why my 1911 is loaded with CorBon.

    I mentioned this some time ago and got a snarky response from some self styled, “expert.”

  36. Dave Says:

    “As long as I act within that law I could load anything I wanted too without fear of persecution.”

    That’s true in every single jurisdiction in the United States. The problem lies in the determination, which will made by twelve people based on the evidence, of whether the score did or did not act within the law. If some evidence that is important is not admitted, the jurors will never even know about it. That is what this is all about.

    The articles in Glock Talk and The High Road were written by persons who are well versed in the rules of evidence.

  37. Terry Says:

    This is the way that I look at it. The defense ammo that is commercially made today is tens time better than it was a decade ago. With a lot of them using specially made bullets that are so potent that they are not even available to the general public for purchase to be used as a reloading component. And a lot of that ammo is marked plus p or hotter than what is the standard round for tha caliber. So who is to say that the lawyers are going to say why did you buy this highly potent super fast load to use as a defense round. They will answer for you of coarse. That would be because it is the badest most powerful and the most potent round available of any commercially loaded ammo on the planet. And That according to the testing by said company has the most deviating effect on a human being. What do you think the jury is going to say about that. The truth of the matter is if the lawyer, judge, policeman or expert forensic person wants to use the ammo as the case against you just because it may be a little different than the normal round for that caliber it’s not going to matter if it is a commercial round or a reload. Let’s face it what the ammo manufacturers are producing today is what we reloaded a few years back. So I just don’t see your case in that you absolutely have to shoot factory ammo or you will be prosected. One thing is for sure the ammo company is not going to be there to defend you because they dont want any part of their ammo to be the focal point in a case. Because they are afraid of the repercussions upon their company.

  38. Terry Says:

    Oh and I forgot to mention that I carry factory ammo in my personal defense guns. But I also would not be afraid to carry my reloads. Because there are plenty of ammo manufacturers that is making way more powerful or potent rounds than I use for my reloads.

  39. Jim Abraham Says:

    Ray, do even know who Massad Ayoob is. Google his name. Then Google recipes for the culinary preparation of shoe leather.

  40. Scott From England Says:

    The only recipe that I know of personally for shoes comes from Werner Herzog and Alice Waters. Boil for five hours in a garlic and herb stock. I haven’t tried this recipe personally though and I certainly don’t intend to.

  41. Ron Says:

    Jim Abraham, I NEVER set out to convince YOU of anything, Frankly I could care less,,,,I won’t know you on the street if you fell into me.

    Here is a new flash for ya regarding “what my local cops carry”. They actually don’t have much say. The municipal bean counters do,,, and in the jurisdictions I know, that ammo contract is put out for bid.WHO do you think gets that contract? LOW price. I’m not bashing your logic in choices,,, I’m just saying neighboring LEO departments will carry totally different ammo brands. Guess you gotta change ammo if you cross over County lines.

    I spend enormous amounts of time on firing lines due to the work that I do. I would love to say I feel all warm n fuzzy over the big name commercial ammos out there today. However,,, I won’t.

    Back when the anointed one was first elected President you all remember ammo either wasn’t there at all or very expensive & in short supply. Purely my lowly opinion,,, but at that time I saw ammo & guns take a wrong turn, I have seen some real CRAP firearms right out of the factory in the past few years. It’s all about money.

    I recently acquired a client who is freshly retired from a BIG name ammo manufacturer who will remain anonymous. He spent his career working in an ammo plant and had plenty of scary tales to get my attention.He swears that in a 24 hour period the company turns out 7 million round of 22LR and other stuff too.

    Things I have seen over the past year:

    #1 Just had a couple with Winchester 22 LR ammo,,, 3/100 had no powder, had to drive bullets out of the bore with a brass rod & hammer.

    #2 While acting as CRSO I witnessed a Glock 21 have trouble with new factory Remington, 45ACP. Apparently Remington had double charged powder blowing the bass case to pieces.

    #3. Watched a couple quite willing to shoot Factory 12 Ga shotgun ammo even though there were triangular shaped holes in each high brass,,, Federal, factory.

    #4. On 3 occasions while conducting defensive carbine training I have seen factory ammo with bullets seated backwards, bent brass cases, etc. Federal factory again.

    #5. Just watched a friend attempt to shoot some factory 357 magnums through his new GP100. Some round never would go bang even after 4 or 5 hits. Upon close examination I suspected Russian primers which are known culprits.

    #6. As an avid reloader I had an entire sleeve (5000 primers) Winchester factory that many of them had no anvils. Had yet a second sleeve with high anvils. In my 45+ years of reloading, I NEVER saw this before.

    #7. I saw brand new factory Winchester 45 ACP cases where the primer pocket was off center. PS: some years back Winchester sold off the brass division.

    #8. Just two weeks ago I had a Winchester 22 LR case blow the rim clean off while in a semi auto,,,, which sent burning power back all over my face.

    This is just a sampling of what I have witnessed over the past few years.

    I’m not going to say that ALL factory ammo is bad,,, but quality control sure has left town. So, now when I reload I am now very picky (especially primers),,,, sorry to say but some brands have been written off by me. I like Cor-Bon factory ammo,,, I like Buffalo Bore factory ammo,,, others remain a crap shoot in my opinion.

    YMMV,,, and nobody has to subscribe to my outlook,, I really don’t care.

    This post started over something that happened,,,, ONCE. Also it really wasn’t a SD case,, but it appears to me to be a case of “what” happened (suspected on my part). If I see a solid pattern begin to take place in SD cases, then maybe I’ll put on my thinking cap.

    Hence my desire to roll my own.

  42. Dennis Says:

    Liberal Dave, at risk of straying too far off thread, my son talked me into viewing a Zombie movie that turned out to be a very touching twist on the whole Zombie apocalypse theme.

    The movie “Maggie” , with only one “name” actor, Arnold Schwarzegger, is a heart tugging change of pace in zombie films. He found it in the $3 bin at wally world. Arnold shows a dramatic talent I didn’t know he had.

  43. Mas Says:

    Ron: “This post started over something that happened,,,, ONCE… If I see a solid pattern begin to take place in SD cases, then maybe I’ll put on my thinking cap.”

    BS. The rules of evidence are beyond “once”: they’re the law of the land, and will be until the unlikely day that they change. If you had applied logic and actually read what was linked, you’d have put your thinking cap on a lot sooner. In just the last few years, GSR evidence was critical in securing the acquittal of George Zimmerman, and in exonerating Officer Darren Wilson in the Ferguson case. Neither would have been likely had those men “manufactured their own evidence” with handloads.

  44. Two-gun Steve Says:

    Ron, thanks for the QC heads-up. Didn’t realize such a trend existed. You really can’t beat proper hand loading. I am with you on the excellent Cor-Bon and BB ammo, too. Love the terminal ballistics of the Cor-Bon hollow points. The reliability of the crimp in the hot BB .357 hard-cast loads is especially amazing. TN_MAN, the consistent performance of Hornady Critical Defense bullets in 9×18 Makarov makes them a first choice for me for potential use in a crowd, where great accuracy and carefully limited penetration are paramount. There is nothing wrong with practice-shooting a whole batch of garage-sale loads of wad cutters done by a fully competent hand-loader, but reading this thread has made me more aware of the liability of using such ammo for most self-defense.

  45. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Hey, Dennis, thanks for the suggestion. I remember Maggie when it came out and meant to see it when it hit cable/streaming/DVD but forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.

  46. Roger Willco Says:

    Ron & Terry,

    I think you have fallen into a trap into which I always fall. That is, you are writing about the way things SHOULD be. The rest of us are commenting on the way things ARE. Can this situation change? Sure, lawyers can start accusing self-defense shooters of using high power zombie skull-crushing ammo. Until that becomes a trend, I’ll stick with factory loads for self-defense.

    Remember, in America, perception is more important than reality. Or, to most unthinking Americans, perception IS reality.

  47. Suburban Says:

    Is the second article you linked available someplace that does not require your date of birth in order to allow you to view it? With all the identity theft issues today, I do not plan to give out that sort of information to a website I do not know.

  48. Mas Says:

    Suburban, I don’t know of anyplace else where you can find it. The High Road is a well-respected forum and I’ve not heard of any cases of identity theft emanating from having joined there.

  49. Will Says:

    So far, no one has made a viable argument for using handloads for SD here in the US in current conditions. In their own mind they may think their stance is supportable, but real life says otherwise. If you can’t convince those who are knowledgeable on a subject, the argument is lacking in some fashion. Strident statements are not persuasive on their own. Ayoob’s position in regard to GSR testing protocols relating to factory ammo made sense thirty years ago, and it still does. Ignoring the situation is just silly, and potentially horrendously costly in all manner of ways.

  50. Two-gun Steve Says:

    Suburban: you can just Google “High Road carrying hand-loads for self-defense,” and you may be able to find the cited text, or at least one closely related, without jumping through the tracking hoops.

  51. Dennis Says:

    Condolences to the family of Bob Owens of “Bearing Arms”.

  52. KG2V Says:

    I have a friend who summed it up this way
    “You can’t go wrong with carrying the issue firearm of the local PD, with the issue ammo from a legal point of view” (Well, in NJ, it might not be legal)

    If they carry a firearm that is DAO with a NY trigger, carry a firearm that is DAO with a NY trigger

  53. Lyle Says:

    Ok, from reading the first article, I would conclude that it’s not about whether you used your hand loads in a defensive shooting at all. It’s about whether you hand load at all, or have access to hand loading, or know someone who knows someone who knows someone who might have access to hand loading. In other words there’s no way out.

    Sure, you may have purchased your carry ammo from WellKnownAmmo, inc.

    OK, now prove that the very round which killed the attacker came from that factory.

    Ah hah! Now the factory data, and expert factory witnesses, are no longer valid or credible, because there’s no way to prove that you did NOT use the same case and components and load that ammo yourself.

    You don’t hand load? Ah hah, but you know or have access to someone who does hand load! Therefore there’s no way to prove that the one or two rounds fired were actual factory new ammo, even if the remaining rounds in the magazine in the pistol you used appear to be factory new, the fired cases have the same headstamp, and the recovered bullets are consistent with the factory ammo. The one or two rounds fired could still very plausibly, be handloads, while all the others were factory new.

    Without pulling the remaining rounds apart and analyzing the contents, the factory has nothing to say. Without being able to pull the fired rounds (because they’re already fired), there’s no proof that the rounds fire were factory, and so the factory has nothing to say.

    It is not whether you hand load then, or what ammo you carry, but the fact that hand loading exists at all.

  54. RonM Says:

    Sigh… any time you bring up a gun-related topic, the chest-puffers just love to stand up and bloviate. We’re not talking about whether handloads are better than factory ammo, etc. All that’s being said here is that regardless of how strongly a self defense shooting is justified, if you use handloads, a skilled prosecutor might be able to use that against you in court, with absolutely disastrous consequences. Your decision.

  55. Mas Says:

    Lyle, I’ve seen opposing counsel come up with some pretty bizarre hypotheses, and I can’t say one might not come up with a fantasy like the one you describe. However, I’d be very much surprised if a judge allowed that argument. For about as long as we’ve had forensic ballistics as an established science, the common practice of the courts has been to presume that if the bullet recovered by the body was consistent with a 127 grain Winchester Ranger 9mm, and the casing was marked Winchester +P+, and there were 127 grain Winchester Ranger 9mm +P+ rounds remaining in the evidence weapon, the court would accept that this was the load in question and testing would be done accordingly.

  56. Rivrdog Says:

    Mas, would you care to comment on the Strickland case in Portland?

    Mindful of the fact that I put in 25 years behind an Enforcement Deputy’s badge in that County, and have been apprised of ALL cases where SD motivation was an issue, the Strickland case just threw precedent right out the courtroom window. Precedent said that if the state of mind (state of fear-awareness) was reasonable, no one could be convicted of Menacing for pulling a gun to demonstrate intent to defend, and up until Strickland, no prosecutor would even charge the crime.

    Strickland was a political PITA to liberals around here. Using his camera and the Internet to deliver truth which invariably contravened the liberal local politics, he had been savagely beaten down by a local liberal goon squad. When 5 members of that same squad came after him and his Truth Camera again, he drew his weapon. He was convicted on ten counts, and faced 50 years imprisonment. Surprisingly, the judge of that Star Chamber gave him only 40 days, but ended his 1A & 2A rights.

    I conclude that Legal Precedent means nothing, especially if you rub the authoritarians the wrong way. Counting on GSR evidence to get you off is a construct of a Nation Of Laws, and this God-forsaken Republic is not run that way any longer.

    I say, train hard, be always in control, and load the best ammo you can find. If you find it at your bench, machts nichts.

  57. TN_MAN Says:

    @ Lyle,

    Some of the premium factory bullets are not sold as separate components. For example, hornady does not seem to sell the FTX bullet, used in their Critical Defense ammo, as a separate reloading component.

    In order to make your proposed case with a FTX bullet, the opposing counsel would have to assume that you:

    1) Took loaded factory hornady critical defense ammo.
    2) Pulled the bullet and dumped the powder charge.
    3) and then reloaded the round using a different powder charge but re-using the FTX bullet that you pulled earlier.

    That would be really “stretching the blanket” in my book! 🙂

    Even if someone made such a charge, chemical analysis of the powder residue should reveal whether it was the original type powder or a substitute.

    So, I am very comfortable carrying the Hornady Critical Defense ammo. I don’t believe anyone could (creditably) push the theory that I handloaded it.

  58. Fruitbat44 Says:

    Interesting article, only read the first one I’m afraid, but it makes the point that – as have several others here – if you ever have to justify a descion taken in seconds in one of the most stress filled enviroments imaginable, in the leisurely, cool atmosphere of a courtroom, you want as many factors in your favour as possible.

  59. David N Johnson Says:

    Mas: Your knowledge has benefited my my wife and I personally, saving us a ton of heartache and no-telling how much money. I hope you keep writing and teaching for many years. I handload, and I realize that my quality control cannot come close to modern industry. I don’t want a high primer, a creeping bullet, or other malfunction to shut me down when there is danger. Our defense guns carry only factory ammo.

  60. Paul Edwards Says:

    Just a Thought on “Factory Ammo”.

    There is a Local Ammo Loading/Reloading Operation a Couple of Miles From Where I Live, and Friend Of Mine Worked There a Few years Ago, For a While.

    Now Bill, an Ex-Marine, who Flew as a Copter Door Gunner in Viet Nam, in another Lifetime, Did Not Have a Whole Lot of Good things to say about their Operation, Nor The Old Equipment they used to load it on.

    Now, the Point of this is That they Had a Contract with Winchester to Load Ammo For Them, so the question is: How many similar Small Ammo Loading operations Are There around the Country that are “Under Contract” to The “Brand Name Ammo Companies” That we, and the Court System’s “Don’t Know About”, cause Back When I was “Hand Loading Ammo”, I Don’t Think that These types of Operation’s Could even Come Close to the Quality of My Hand Loads!

    Even worse, if this Kind of Ammo was ever Tested for Court Purposes, How would the Results, even Differ from “Hand Loads”, in the first place?


  61. Mas Says:

    Nothing against your friend, Paul, but I think that story might be worth double-checking.

  62. Paul Edwards Says:

    Would Like To Do So Mas, But Bill Has Sold His House, and Moved On To Somewhere in Nevada, I Think?

    Actually, I had Heard That Before Too, But Can’t Recall the Source at The Moment?


  63. WR Moore Says:

    I couldn’t get into the High Road, once upon a time I was a member, but gave up. That said:

    Super Duper Miracle ammo almost never lives up to it’s hype. Stick to conventional products by the major manufacturers and you won’t go wrong. This includes Glaser Safety Slugs-by my statistically significant experience on critters-has issues.

    Before retirement, my employer bought-and used- factory new ammo by major manufacturers* by the tractor trailer load. We saw bullets seated backwards, primers seated backwards and sideways and other issues. [The loading machines don’t care.] However, considering the volume produced and received, not particularly surprising nor statistically significant. It does mean you MUST carefully inspect each and every round prior to loading it in a magazine. This is simply prudent if your life depends upon it.

    Now, did we get the extremely occasional round with no powder? Yes. On the other hand, I expect all of us who reload have the occasional bad round that doesn’t function as intended. Not to be morbid, but should a reload cost us our lives, who’s the estate going to sue?

    Finally, on record keeping. I think I do a reasonable job, labeling each batch with the relevant information. However, in addition to being a neutral third party, the ammo factories record which machine loaded each lot, the make, weight, type and lot number of the powder, the same information on the bullet, primer and cartridge case. Some change lot numbers when the machine operator changes. All, change lot numbers when any changes happen with components. They also keep exemplars of each lot and do QC testing during production. There’s simply no way home records are going to compete.

    * Did we have manufacturers we excluded from further bids? Yes, but I don’t know the current list of those. I do have bitter memories of Winchester, but that happened decades ago.

  64. Dennis Says:

    Mas, Paul Edwards,

    Don’t know how this may enter into the conversation, but as late as last year, when I would check for certain defensive loads from MidwayUSA, on several occasions there were disclaimers stating that “brass head stamp may not match manufacturer due to industry wide shortages of components”. As I recall this disclaimer was on Speer and Hornady ammunition. I don’t remember the manufacturer, but it was a major ammunition provider, that I bought during this period, that had used Starline brass. If it hadn’t been for the box they came in and the proprietary premium bullet, it could have easily been mistaken for reloads.

    Not my intent to muddy the water, but truthful occurrence.

  65. clark e myers Says:

    You’re right. Lo these many years every argument I have seen on the other side was an ad hominum attack.

    That said I’d like to see an update or a simple repetition of your long ago article in Handloader to the effect that folks who are going to do carry handloads anyway against your advice should do it this way.

    My normal carry guns in conventional police calibers I typically do carry police market factory ammunition. That said, although I did long ago and far away carry a Model 58, I’m likely to have S&W N frame in the woods or maybe a .32 trap and kit gun, and I’m not going to buy or carry say factory 170 grain loads in the woods. What should I do in handloading just in case?

  66. Spats McGee Says:

    Thank you for linking my article. I spent a lot of time working on it, and it’s nice to see it get some good press. With that said, I’d like to respond to some of the comments.

    First, I’ve read hundreds, if not thousands, of Kleanbore’s posts over the years. He is not an attorney, but he is an exceptionally capable student of the laws surrounding guns and civilian uses of force. If I were defending an SD shooting, I’d hire him for my team every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    Second, for those of you who argue the old adage “a good shoot is a good shoot,” without regard to whether you carry factory rounds or handloads, you’ve overlooked one very important point. That point is that your use of handloads may complicate the determination of whether it was ever “a good shoot” to begin with. We’d all like to think that we’d never be in a questionable shooting, but defensive shooters don’t get to pick the time, place or circumstances. If you picked when and where you’d be in a gunfight, you’re an assailant, not a defender.

    Third, for those of you that argue that “handloads aren’t illegal,” . . . . Nope, they’re not. Not in any US jurisdiction of which I am aware. That doesn’t magically transform the decision to use them for SD or HD into a consequence-free choice. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it smart. It’s not illegal for me to climb a ladder in a thunderstorm, either . . . .

    Finally, some miscellaneous comments: You’ll note that I don’t claim that you should not reload at all. I think reloading is a great, economical way to practice. I’ve been saving brass for years waiting to get into reloading and when I do, and I’m going to crank out reloads by the hundreds for practice. I intend to work up loads that mimic my carry loads and shoot the living bejeebers out of ‘em. I have no intention of using them for defensive purposes.

    Someone mentioned exemplar. The article originally discussed exemplar evidence, but I wound up editing that out. When I discussed the possibility of an article with the GT people, I asked how long they needed an article to be, and I was told “at least 500 words.” I couldn’t have scratched the surface in 500 words, but it eventually got so long that I had to trim it back. So exemplar evidence had to go, but it is another valid consideration. The defense may be able to test exemplars and introduce those test results in a trial, but if the “exemplars” are handloads created by the defendant/SD shooter, the odds of getting that evidence in at trial drop dramatically, in my honest opinion.

    Finally, any decent defense attorney should be looking for ways to defend his client without the client having to testify in a criminal trial. Once the defendant takes the stand, all A5 protections go out the window. (The civil issue is separate, but the criminal issue will usually be dealt with first.) That’s one of the reasons I would advise against the use of handloads. If I ever have to defend myself against murder charges and GSR evidence becomes a factor, I want to be able to subpoena a whole slew of folks that I never met, and who have no reason to lie on my behalf, to substantiate my story.

    Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else involved in a defensive shooting can know exactly what factual elements he or she will be required to prove in order to defend oneself at trial. That’s the nature of defensive shootings. The assailant picks the circumstances, and the shooter could be required to prove facts such as distance, temperature, number of assailants. Accordingly, I’ll take whatever steps I can, in advance, to remove as many variables from that equation as I can.

  67. Spats McGee Says:

    The article on The High Road is now accessible without logging in.

  68. TN_MAN Says:

    Like all things in life, from investing your money to driving your car to what type of carry weapon / ammo to use, it comes down to how much risk one is comfortable taking.

    If we listen to the Left-Wing gun-grabbers, we will have nothing but sheep-like compliance with which to defend ourselves. To argue the other side for a moment, we don’t want fear of what a jury will think to effectively disarm us.

    I found this article, which was linked on the High Road page, very interesting:

    It provides an argument that the “tactical cool” phase that we are experiencing will work against us in court. For example, many experts (including Mas) have argued that an AR style rifle, in 5.56 / 223, makes an ideal home defense gun. But does it to a jury?

    Do you really want to use that AR if you have a chance of being punished for using an “evil assault weapon that is only good for killing people” by a jury?

    The anti-gun propaganda pushed by the Left has so tarnished certain firearms that it may now be dangerous to use them. Perhaps even more risky then using handloaded ammo.

    You may think it cool to keep a “pimped up” AR (loaded with lights, lasers, red dot sights, forward hand-grip, etc.) for your home defense weapon. Those gadgets might even be useful upon occasion but how will that “decked out” weapon appear to a jury composed of non-gun owners who have been bombarded by anti-gun propaganda for years.

    One can very well make the case that one should avoid such weapons in favor of plainer (but still effective) firearms.

    One of my disappointments with the firearms industry is that they push “decked out” firearms (because that is what sells, apparently) while failing to offer plain, lower cost options for home defense. Suppose, for example, that Ruger was to take their plain, wood stocked 10/22, maybe convert it to a delayed blowback design, and offer it in 9mm Luger with a rotary magazine. They could offer something like a 9-round rotary magazine as standard with extended mag’s as an option. Call it the Ruger 9×9!

    Such a gun would be ideal for home defense. It would combine effectiveness, low recoil, low muzzle blast, a 9-round mag to make it legal in those 10-round limit States, light weight, handiness and (in a wood-stock version) an appearance that would not excite the anti-gun knee-jerk response of a jury brainwashed by anti-gun propaganda.

    Instead of sensible weapons being offered (at least as an option) by the firearms industry, what we actually get is more and more “black guns” with each company trying to make their gun look “meaner” then their competitors. The lowest common denominator wins again!

  69. Paul Edwards Says:

    @ TN_MAN :

    I can certainly Whole Heartedly Agree with You About Simple Defense Firearms!

    Many years ago, I had a Ruger Deerslayer .44 Mag. carbine that I used to hunt Javalina at a place we called “Pig Hill”, south of Tucson, AZ., almost to the Mexican Border.

    This carbine was short, fast to get on target, easy to carry up, or down, the rugged hills there, and would knock down one of these “Porker’s” like a bowling pin.

    Their only limitation was a tubular magazine that was slow, and hard, to reload in a hurry. Worse yet, neither Ruger, nor anyone else, figured out how to up-grade/modify them to take a detachable, double stack, ten, or better yet twenty, round magazine, before Ruger ceased production of them.

    At This Point, I don’t know how many of them are left out there, but if some good gunsmith could still find a way to modify them, I would sure buy one.

    Alternatively, I hoped one of the U.S. M-1 Carbine clone makers might come out with something similar in the .44 Mag. cartridge, but I haven’t seen one yet?


  70. Dennis Says:


    Marlin produced the Camp Carbine in 9mm until 1999 when they stopped production. They were exactly the type weapon your describing, using a single stack stick magazine. As I recall, they were well liked by those that owned them. They even produced some in .45 acp. I’m guessing that production stopped because the market demanded black plastic military look-a-likes, not benign looking camp/utility guns.

    By the way, I agree with your assertion.

  71. TN_MAN Says:

    @ Dennis,

    Yes, the Marlin Camp Carbine was exactly the right idea but it was marketed the wrong way. It was marketed as a Camp / Utility rifle. Instead, it should have been marketed as a combined fun plinker / home defense gun. After all, 9mm can be purchased (in bulk) at prices low enough to allow plinking with it.

    Note that used Marlin Camp Carbines are selling on Gun Broker for asking prices in the $600 to $800 range and one, listed as NIB, is going for $950. Clearly, there is still a market for this kind of gun.

    Past efforts have been poorly marketed, as noted above, but (worst of all), they have been priced too high.

    I just checked the prices on Bud’s. Just-Right-Carbines are going for about $600 to $650. The Beretta Storm, in 9mm, is about $700. The Colt AR, in 9mm, is almost $1000. The only 9mm carbine that is well-priced is the Highpoint at just under $300. All these 9mm carbines strive (incorrectly) for the “mean” black-rifle look. Even the Highpoint was re-designed (a few years ago) to make it look “meaner” and more “tactical”.

    Meanwhile, also on buds, you can buy Bushmaster AR’s in the $500 to $550 range and Century AK’s for just over $650. Why would anyone buy a “wannabe” black rifle in 9mm when he can get the genuine article for the same (or even lower) cost in 5.56 NATO or 7.62X39?

    Note that wood-stocked Ruger 10/22’s can be had, also on Bud’s, for prices in the $200 to $250 range.

    If Marlin could bring back a wood-stocked version of its old camp carbine or Ruger could bring back a wood-stocked version of its 10/22 platform in 9mm for a street price in the $300 to $400 dollar range and marketed, as I suggest, as a combined fun plinker / home defense gun, I bet they would sell them by the truck load.

    However, the industry is too busy in the mean-looking “black gun” race to even consider producing this kind of firearm. It is a shame!

  72. Dennis Says:


    The Camp Carbine had a blow back action, rather than a locked bolt.

  73. WR Moore Says:

    Funny someone should mention the Marlin Camp Carbine. One of the major reasons they quit making them was that the .45 version broke stocks with great gusto. My younger son bought one used, it’s currently broken-both stock and trigger group (also not uncommon).

    Great idea, poorly executed.

  74. TN_MAN Says:

    @ Dennis,

    Yes, although I have never owned one, my understanding is that the Marlin Camp Carbines (like the Hi-point carbines) are pure, blow-back actions. This has some drawbacks like making the Camp Carbine a bit heavier than one would expect. The extra weight, in the bolt, is needed to support a blow-back action using moderately powerful cartridges like the 9mm and 45 acp. The system also has to be designed so that “slam-fires” don’t happen if the gun is dropped or, otherwise, mishandled.

    While a full gas or piston-operated locked system is not needed for these pistol-caliber carbines, I think something more than pure blow-back would be best.

    That is why I mentioned that an “ideal” carbine (in my post above) should use a delayed blow-back action. I feel that the delayed blow-back action (being half-way between the totally unlocked “blow-back” action but not as tight or complicated as a fully “locked” gas operated system) would be the “Goldilocks” solution for a pistol caliber carbine.

  75. Ira Chandler Says:

    @tc way above mentions that even using gear that LE uses could be an issue. And for that reason, I would not carry “Critical Duty” though it has superior barrier penetration, in favor of “Critical Defense” that is not targeted FOR LE.

    In the worst case, and ANY trial is just that, we want to ELIMINATE as many factors as possible to simplify our defense.

    After decades of reading Ayoob, who in their right mind could argue with ANY of his recommendations? Who here has the experience that he has accumulated?

    Regarding the home defense, a simple Glock in a Suarez forearm brace ( or or the Micro-RONI STAB ( are great home defense considerations. They provide am absolutely reliable foundations (Glock) and some handling improvements that improve target acquisition and accuracy in a small form factor. A 9mm AR makes no sense to me, nor do so many other 9mm carbine attempts.

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