The Advantage of Defense Ammunition vs. Target Ammunition For Self-Defense

Equally as important as choosing a firearm to conceal carry is choosing the ammunition that you will use in that firearm. Many people believe that ammunition selection is a simple process, but the reality is you should not use the first box you grab off the shelf. Instead, you need to use ammunition that was specifically intended for self-defense, and furthermore, you need to choose self-defense ammunition that is high performing and can stop an attacker in their tracks. You would be surprised at how many people actually carry target full metal jacket ammunition in their defensive pistol. While it may be significantly cheaper to do so, as defense ammunition is admittedly very expensive, it’s not a particularly wise move.


Why Is Target Ammo Not Good For Self-Defense?

The vast majority of ammunition you see on the shelves at sporting goods stores is full metal jacket ammunition, also known as target or range ammo. This ammunition is typically very affordable (at least with popular pistol calibers such as 9mm Luger or .38 Special) and is an excellent choice for training purposes or for casual shooting on the range.



But while target FMJ ammo should not be regarded as low quality (at least not from reputable ammo makers), there are many reasons why you would not be smart to use it for self-defense.

This is because FMJ ammunition does not expand upon impacting the target, because the bullet is typically a round nose or ball. This means two things:


  1. The round will create much less damage in comparison to an expanding bullet
  2. The round can easily pass through human flesh and cause collateral damage to innocent bystanders


For these reasons, target ammo isn’t just not as effective for self-defense, it can potentially be more dangerous to other people caught in the middle of the crossfire as well. Target ammo is a superb choice for training on the range. But it’s hardly a superb choice to depend your life on. Instead, you’re going to need to go with jacketed hollow point defense ammunition, which we will talk about next.


What Is Jacketed Hollow Point Defensive Ammunition?

Jacketed hollow points (JHP) are ammunition designed specifically for self-defense. Hollow points are far more effective for defense because not only are they designed to expand upon impact, they also are designed to transfer almost all of their energy into the target as well.

This means that if you shoot an attacker trying to kill you, the bullet will expand instantly to make a much larger wound channel than a full metal jacket round nose would. Furthermore, the bullet will not over penetrate because most of the energy will have already been transferred upon impact.

That being said, not every jacketed hollow point bullet will be a suitable choice for self-defense. There are several qualities that you will need to look for in a suitable defensive round, including…


Qualities Your JHP Defensive Ammunition Needs To Have

There are many qualities that any ammunition you use for personal defense needs to have, including but not necessarily limited to the following:


  • It needs to penetrate the target deep enough that it can stop the attacker (FBI standards are a minimum of twelve inches of penetration while continuing to expand)
  • It must expand reliably in order to create enough damage to stop the attacker
  • It needs to be fully functional and reliable in your firearm, and work under adverse conditions (such as freezing temperatures, rain and snow, hot weather, etc.)



Remember, the reason you want to use jacketed hollow point ammo to begin with is because you want the bullet to expand continuously while transferring as much energy as possible into the attacker. This will create the most stopping power while also limiting liabilities that would be created from over penetration and potentially causing collateral damage.


According to the FBI, the best defense ammunition will penetrate a minimum of twelve inches while continuing to expand until it stops. While velocity plays a major role in how far a bullet will travel, heavier bullets will also penetrate just as well as lighter rounds, while also conserving more inertia (which should technically make it penetrate even farther).




You also need to confirm that your defensive ammo in choice will function properly in your defensive firearm as well. Even though defensive JHP ammunition tends to be very expensive, it is of the utmost importance that you know it will function correctly in your handgun. For this reason, run a minimum of two hundred rounds of the ammunition through your pistol. If there are any hiccups at all, you will need to find a different round.


Jacketed Hollow Point vs. Hollow Point

Many people are under the impression that jacketed hollow point (JHP) and hollow point (HP) ammunition is the same thing, but hit is not true. Jacketed hollow points will look very similar to hollow points, but they will also be coated in a more durable and smoother metal, which will prevent lead issues in your firearm while also improving feeding and reliability. If you shoot a good amount of normal HP ammunition through your firearm, lead can build up in the weapon that will result in fouling and increased wear and tear. JHP ammunition is just as effective while also being more reliable.



In conclusion, JHP defense ammunition will be far more effective than target FMJ ammo for self-defense, because it will expand upon impact and transfer more energy into the attacker in order to create a larger wound channel and increase the chances of stopping them in their tracks. Additionally, jacketed hollow point ammunition will also penetrate less than range ammo, so the chances of them passing through an attacker and possibly hitting an innocent bystander is also reduced. Target ammo is great for range practice, and that’s about it. When you need to protect your life and the lives of your family, jacketed hollow point ammo is easily the best way to go.

Spin the wheel or rack the slide: Revolver vs Semi Auto

Okay, would you like paper or plastic? How about manual transmission or automatic? Revolver or semi auto? How do guns factor into car talk? Well you might be surprised that the nomenclature used to describe automobiles is very similar to firearms. The term manual vs automatic can refer to the operation of the double action/single action revolver and the semi automatic pistols that are so common today. Lets delve into a brief history of the different types as we explore the revolver vs semi auto.

The revolver, a handgun capable of firing 5 to 6 shots per rotation of a cylinder affixed to the frame of the gun, hence the term “revolver”. The revolver has also been given the term “six shooter” by many referring to the amount of rounds in the cylinder. One of the very first revolvers was the single action revolver. The single action mechanism works because the shooter cocks the hammer of the gun in order to fire the weapon. If the weapon is not cocked the gunlo- will not fire. Fast forward to more modern variations of the revolver and we come to the double action revolver. Double action revolvers work two fold, first the weapon can be fired in double action mode which essentially means that the shooter can pull the trigger which cocks the hammer and releases it all in one motion. This mode has a longer trigger pull because the shooter is cocking the gun by trigger rather than thumbing back the hammer and decreasing the weight of the trigger pull. Now that we understand the basics of revolver operation let’s take a look at the semi-auto.

The semi auto handgun has become the evolutionary marvel of modern day handguns. Some of you may be thinking, the revolver was “revolutionary”! Pun intended. In all seriousness the revolver was revolutionary for it’s time; now the semi auto is more popular due to ease of operation and the ability to have a higher round capacity. The semi auto handgun has different modes of operation, first there’s single action only, then there are double action/single action and DAO (double action only). That might sound like a lot but they are very similar to the revolver operation minus the rotating cylinder. The single action pistol must have the hammer cocked in order to fire the weapon just like the single action revolver. The DA/SA mode allows the shooter to pull the trigger to cock the gun or thumb back the hammer for a lighter trigger pull. DAO refers to a constant state of heavy trigger pulls in this mode (which is popular with many police departments). So although there are similarities and differences between the two you may still be wondering what’s your best option when it comes to the revolver vs semi auto.


For the most part, the revolver and semi auto act similarly. If the shooter is more comfortable with a DA revolver, then switching to a DA/SA pistol is a natural progression. It all comes down to personal preference when choosing a revolver vs semi auto. From the time I have spent with customers, I have heard stories including everything from a first time gun owner, to those having little training, to those that know the gun industry inside and out but want something different. One of the most popular revolvers that I recommend to new shooters is the Ruger LCR. The Ruger utilizes a polymer frame and a stainless steel cylinder. This combination of materials and quality engineering by Ruger has created a revolver that stays current in the trend of plastic fantastic pistols while still adapting to a changing world. There is another interesting revolver that is worth noting, the Chiappa Rhino. The Chiappa Rhino is a futuristic revolver that has the barrel sitting at the six o’clock  position rather than the normal twelve o’clock position. The revolver is chambered in .357 magnum and doesn’t have much recoil due to the barrel’s position. When determining whether you are interested in a revolver vs semi auto it is important to consider how you will carry your firearm and for what application you will be using it as well. There are some equally impressive semi autos that include the DA/SA design, such as the Sig Sauer P226, P229, and P220 series. The Sig is an outstanding firearm that has the ability to decock the hammer via a lever on the left side of the frame. This allows the shooter to decide whether or not they want to stay in single action or go back to double action.  There are many other designs out there worth noting from manufacturers such as Springfield Armory, Taurus, Smith and Wesson and more. Check out our selection of semi-auto pistols and revolvers on!

Defensive shooting is a critical skill to build if you plan to use a firearm for concealed carry or home defense. Defensive training can be found with firearms instructors, but there are also numerous drills you can shoot at the range to train your skills. Defensive firearms training will often require a functioning handgun, a holster, a spare magazine pouch, plenty of ammo, man-sized targets, and a shot timer. Shot timers can be expensive, however you can download an app to your phone and they typically work okay.


With a phone timer, I’d stick to the par timer because phones can have difficulty picking up a gunshot. So without any further noise, let’s take a look at my top 5 defensive shooting drills.


The Basic Double Tap

The double-tap is a fundamental defensive shooting drill that’s easy to begin with and difficult to master. The double-tap, sometimes known as the hammer pair, is an invaluable skill to master. The double-tap is a technique where you fire two shots with one sight picture. The goal is to squeeze the trigger fast but also to remain accurate.


The double-tap can be done from the draw if your range allows for it. If not, the ability to accurately rapid-fire two rounds and land them in the body of your target is crucial. The first shot should be well placed and well-aimed. You want a solid sight picture for that first round. After the first shot, the goal is for you to recover as fast as possible and place a second shot on target.


The second shot will likely not be as accurate but should be within three inches of the first shot. Start close at say 5 yards. Master the accurate double tap at this range and then extend the range yard by yard.


This Drill will teach you weapons control, the ability to work the trigger, and the means to effectively place two shots on the target as quickly and accurately as possible. Two shots are always better than one.


Failure to Stop Drill

The Failure to Stop Drill is a classic firearms drill dating all the way back to Jeff Cooper and Gunsite Academy and a mercenary in Africa. Originally the Drill was called the Mozambique drill, but the current en vogue name is the Failure to Stop Drill. It’s designed for an attacker that’s charging you or fails to stop when you fire on them.




The Failure to Stop drill is simple and can be fired from the low ready or from a draw and fire situation if your range allows. The Failure to Stop Drill requires you to fire three shots. The first two are a double-tap to the chest of the target. The third and final round is a well-aimed headshot.


This Drill is designed to work off the double-tap. The first shot is as well-aimed as possible, and the second shot is all about speed. These first two shots should stop your opponent, or at the very least, slow them down. If they continue with the attack or moving forward, you fire a well-placed round to the head.


The key to this Drill is proper shot placement and speed. The first two shots need to be done rapidly. They will slow your opponent and allow you to take that final follow up headshot. Start the Drill at 5 yards and work on going slow and learning the rhythm of the Drill. Add speed when it’s safe to do so. Put an emphasis on a very first and last shot. Those are the two that will make your money.



Changing Gears

Changing gears is a drill designed by the gurus over at and is one of my favorites. This defensive shooting drill is designed to help you learn how to handle your firearm in both rapid-fire and slow fire situations. The Drill involves both a large target and a small target as well as rapid-fire and slow accurate fire.




The targets are a 3×5 card and an 8-inch paper plate. The card placed above the plate when shooting. You’ll need a timer to complete the Drill, and as I mentioned earlier, a phone timer works as long as you can set the Par Time. This Drill is fired at 7 yards and set your par time to 4 seconds.


Load your magazine with at least 6 rounds, but feel free to load more. Start in the low ready or with your gun holstered and hit start on the timer. On the go signal aim and fire two accurate rounds into the 3×5 card, then fire as many rounds as possible into the 8-inch plate within the set par time.


My personal best is two shots to the card and 6 shots to the plate in four seconds. It’s a challenge that’s fun, but also excellent training. The Drill challenges your ability to go from slow and accurate to rapid-fire. The changing gears occur in your brain, and you have to translate that to your hands rapidly.




Being able to change gears and go from slow and precise to fast and accurate enough is an excellent skill to have in defensive shooting encounters. This Drill will challenge your ability to shoot accurately as well as to control your gun while firing rapidly. Best of all, it takes no specific targets, and you can go at your own speed.


The iHack Drill

The iHack Drill is a specialized drill that is derived from the original Hackathorn Headshot Standards. However, it’s been reduced and redesigned for indoor ranges and to comply with their rules. It uses a specialized target you can print here.


The Drill uses three small circles spaced slightly apart, and your goal is too hit every one of those circles three times. It’s a little more complicated than that, though. This Drill has 3 different strings per Drill. You start from the ready position, and you have three seconds per iteration.


On the first iteration, you fire one and only one shot on each dot going from left to right.

The second iteration has you going from right to left firing one shot on each dot.

The final iteration has you begin firing on the center dot with a single round and then engaging the left and right target in any order you like.


A passing score is 7 out of 9 shots. Any shot fired outside of your 3 second par time is considered a miss. The iHack allows you to learn precision, speed, and target transitions. These are all invaluable skills to have in a gunfight.


Better yet, the short 3-second timer puts pressure on you to perform, and learning to work under pressure is a critical skill.



The 5X5 Drill

The Wilson 5X5 drill was created by Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat. The 5×5 Drill requires 25 rounds, one man-sized target, and at least two magazines, a holster, and a belt-mounted magazine pouch. The Drill requires you to fire 4 strings and has a passing time. You’ll use a timer to record your strings of fire and then add them up.




The strings of fire are as follows.


String 1 – Draw and fire 5 rounds into the target.

String 2 – Draw and fire 5 rounds with only your strong hand.

String 3 – Draw and fire 5 rounds, reload from an empty chamber, and fire 5 more rounds.

String 4 – Draw and fire 4 rounds to the body and 1 shot to the head.



Grandmaster – Under 15 Seconds

Master – 16-20 seconds

Expert – 21-25 seconds

Sharpshooter – 26-32 seconds

Marksman – 33-41 seconds

Novice – 42-50 seconds

Not Proficient Enough to Carry a Gun – Over 50 seconds


The 5X5 Drill is an important defensive shooting drill and can work as a qualifier for your own personal skills. It trains and tests you with various strings of fire. It’s an excellent skill set to build, and you’ll find the Drill challenging to be sure.


Train and Pain

Training is critical to gun handling, especially in a defensive shooting scenario. These drills are designed to help you build proficiency and skill when it comes to gunslinging. They are designed to test and develop skills. You may fail, and that’s okay. Failure is the first step to succeeding. Just remember never sacrifice safety for speed. Work on accuracy and focus on safety as you train. Speed comes with time. Be safe, shoot a ton, and keep it going.

A look at the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington Tac-14


Have you ever gone to the gun store all pumped up about buying the new shotgun you have been wanting for home defense or target practice, only to get it home and find out it doesn’t really fit your needs? Well to help with your decision process here is the rundown on the differences between two very popular shotguns right now; technically they are not considered a shotgun, a pistol, or a long gun. These models are in their own category: the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington Tac-14.


Now I know you’re probably wondering what makes them different than any other offerings out there right now. Well quite a bit and I’ve got all the juicy details on both. Let’s start with the Mossberg Shockwave. If you have ever used or handled a Mossberg 500 or 590 then you are up to speed. The differences between the classified shotguns and the Shockwave boil down to two major things: 1) the Shockwave does not have a stock or a traditional “pistol grip” but rather a slightly angled grip referred to a Raptor grip, 2) the barrel length is shortened to 14” rather the the standard length 18 ½”. As for the rest of the gun everything is standard Mossberg, the release button is to the rear of the receiver on the left side and the safety is on the top of the receiver near the grip for either left or right handed operation. What’s great about the Shockwave is that since the gun is so compact, it is easily maneuverable within the confines of the house, car or any small area.


Now if you have ever handled a Remington 870, then you are up to speed on the new Remington Tac-14. The Tac-14 is the same as the full size 870 but with a few changes: 1) the inclusion of the Raptor grip in lieu of a pistol grip, 2) the barrel length of 14” as opposed to the standard 18 ½” on the full sized shotgun, 3) a new for-end designed by Magpul. Everything else is standard 870. The safety bolt is still located behind the trigger, and the release is in front of the trigger guard on the left side of the receiver. The Remington Tac-14 is a great addition to anyone who is familiar with the fundamentals of the company’s full sized 870 offerings but would rather have a more compact variant for various applications.


Although very similar, the Mossberg Shockwave and the Remington Tac-14 do have some differences. We are frequently asked, Which is better? While both serve a similar purpose and are great guns, the Shockwave has 1 more round capacity than the Tac-14. It also has a strap underneath the fore-end that the Remington does not have. The Shockwave’s safety is on the top vs. near the trigger guard like the Tac-14.  The Remington Tac-14 safety is behind the trigger and also includes a Magpul fore-end grip that some people prefer over the other model. In the end it comes down to personal preference when choosing which brand and model to go with.


Now that we got the similarities and differences between the two out of the way, now on to the main question: Why would you want one of these? Well let me tell you, when it comes to full sized shotguns, barrel length is a big factor. For the most part, shotguns are either used for trap/skeet, hunting, target practice, or home defense. Now normally these activities are done outside where manipulating a long barrel doesn’t pose an issue, however, it does become a factor when you use it in a home defense scenario. Most shotguns that are catered to self defense are typically 18 ½”. While that doesn’t sound too long, trying to manipulate one in a small hallway can be a bit cumbersome, that’s where the Shockwave and Tac-14 come into play. They allow the user to enough room for clearing and ease of hallway/doorway manipulation. The short overall size is ideal for small apartments, town houses or for anyone that prefers a shorter length firearm. Another use for the diminutive Mossberg and Remington are as vehicle or truck guns. There are some people out there who prefer to have a gun at the ready in their vehicle for emergencies. Something that is compact and packs a punch is normally what is preferred. The Shockwave and Tac-14 fit the bill for their size and power which is why they have become so popular.


For those that are concerned about the legality of this firearm, it is important to note that ATF has issued a statement regarding the firearm. They are considered non-NFA firearms and are perfectly acceptable for purchase in states that do not have independent restrictions on them. Should you have any question about purchase, be sure to consult your local FFL that you plan to transfer the firearm to. They can let you know any issues that might arise depending on your state. Click here to view ATF letter regarding Mossberg Shockwave.


If you have ever wondered what it would be like to shoot a shorter version of the full size counterparts, today is your lucky day. Here at Arms Deal Shop we offer both the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington Tac14 for sale at highly competitive prices!