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Old 11-17-2009, 11:03 PM   #1
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Default So maybe I can get some help...

I don't really understand what differences between brands, grains, etc are and I want to learn. What makes brands better than others? What else do I need to know about ammo? What are the benefits of increased pressure?

Any and all help/insight would be great!
Thanks!

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Old 11-18-2009, 12:03 AM   #2
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I don't really understand what differences between brands, grains, etc are and I want to learn. What makes brands better than others? What else do I need to know about ammo? What are the benefits of increased pressure?

Any and all help/insight would be great!
Thanks!
As far as store bought ammo, it falls in 2 categories - range ammo and defense ammo. Range ammo is generally a medium power load pushing a full metal jacketed (FMJ) bullet. Defensive ammo is loaded on the hot side and pushes some type of jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullet.

As far as the range ammo brands go, anything that Walmart sells will shoot just fine. Blazer brass & aluminum, Winchester white box (WWB), PMC, etc.

There is also steel cased ammo available, Wolf is the most common, and some folks shoot it some don't. I personally don't use steel cased ammo.

As far as pressure goes, that is determined by the specs for the ammo. A .40 S&W is a high pressure round where the .45 ACP is a low pressure round - just a function of the design of the cartridge.

Defensive ammo is available in a bewildering array of brands and types - most any of the modern designs will do the job and everyone has their favorites...
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:58 AM   #3
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There is also steel cased ammo available, Wolf is the most common, and some folks shoot it some don't. I personally don't use steel cased ammo.

As far as pressure goes, that is determined by the specs for the ammo. A .40 S&W is a high pressure round where the .45 ACP is a low pressure round - just a function of the design of the cartridge.
Any benefits over the steel cased?

Are there any benefits of using higher pressure rounds? Sometimes I see people say "+P 9mm is better" or whatever. I just see that term used. What are advantages and disadvantages over it?
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:25 AM   #4
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get lees reloading manual.it will explan every thing,lymans books are good to.

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Old 11-18-2009, 04:55 AM   #5
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Are there any benefits of using higher pressure rounds? Sometimes I see people say "+P 9mm is better" or whatever. I just see that term used. What are advantages and disadvantages over it?
The inside scoop on +P

By Dan Johnson

Most shooters know the "P" in the +P designation on a cartridge headstamp stands for pressure and indicates that the cartridge is loaded to higher chamber pressures and thus higher velocities. But many are confused as to exactly how much pressure is added and how safe these high-performance loads are. I believe this confusion is contributed to by people in the industry, some by firearms companies that understandably wish to err on the side of caution in our litigious society and some by small ammunition manufacturers looking for an edge in a highly competitive market.

The +P designation came about for a very simple reason. As advancements were made in the quality and strength of both firearms and cartridge cases it was determined that some of the older rounds were capable of operating safely at higher chamber pressures in modern firearms than those originally established. Since firearms--and cases, for that matter--are durable goods that last for decades, even centuries, it was not feasible to simply increase the standard pressure specifications for these cartridges. There are too many old firearms around that could not handle the increase safely. So SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute) uses the +P designation to separate the new pressure limit for these old cartridges from the old lower standard.

It is important to understand that SAAMI is the principle organization in the United States actively engaged in the development and promulgation of product standards for firearms and ammunition. Ammo specifications are not overseen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or any other branch of government. Consumers should be aware that only manufacturers that are members of SAAMI are bound by the Institute's guidelines.

All the major American ammo manufacturers are SAAMI members, and most smaller outfits also abide by SAAMI guidelines, but I have seen ammo from one or two small manufacturers offered in calibers such as .40 S&W and .357 Magnum with the +P designation. Since SAAMI does not specify +P ratings for these cartridges there are only two possible explanations. Either the ammo is loaded to higher pressures than SAAMI deems safe or the +P designation is just marketing hype. Be aware, all comments in this article regarding the safety of using +P ammunition are related to SAAMI-sanctioned +P loads only.

Perhaps the careless use of the +P designation contributes to the caution on the part of some firearms manufacturers. Some manufacturers make vague statements in their owner's manuals regarding +P ammo that I feel adds to consumers' confusion. For example, some manufacturers of 1911s state, without explanation, that +P .45 ACP ammo is not recommended for use in short-barreled models. This is not due to any concern over chamber pressures. All modern 1911s in proper working order will safely handle +P pressures. The concern is the increased slide velocity produced by the hotter ammo, which affects the functional reliability of the handgun. These short-barreled variants of the 1911 are sometimes finicky, and a recoil spring tensioned for a particular power level of ammo helps to ensure complete reliability. Loads beyond this power level are not only more prone to jam, the added recoil causes more stress on the frame.

Demystifying +P

Another area of concern for some shooters is with the .38 Special +P loads and small-framed double-action revolvers. These little snubnose .38s have long been popular due to their light weight and concealability but are necessarily not as strong as beefier models. This is especially true of older handguns that may not have the quality of steel available today. I do not know of any current models in production that are not OK'd by the manufacturer for use with +P ammunition, and frankly, if I did I wouldn't fire the thing with any ammo. As stated earlier, SAAMI-specified +P is simply a modern standard for maximum pressure in these veteran cartridges, so if a newly manufactured handgun will not handle these pressures, I want no part of it.

I would be remiss not to discuss another P rating: +P+. This designates that the cartridge is loaded above SAAMI specs for +P ammo, and most manufacturers restrict sale of these loads to law enforcement, for good reason. These loads are carefully tailored for modern service handguns and may not be safe in all firearms. Thus they are not offered to the general public.

I feel we in the industry should make an effort to demystify +P loads. They are not, as some shooters believe, loaded to borderline pressures. The increase in pressure is moderate. For example, +P .45 ACP ammo is loaded to a maximum pressure of 23,000 psi compared to 21,000 psi for standard loads. Compared to the maximum pressure of other autoloader rounds, these pressures are very mild. The maximum pressure for the .40 S&W, for example, is 35,000 psi.

Any increase in pressure and velocity, however, does put more stress on the firearm. For this reason I use +P .38 Special ammo sparingly in my Chiefs Special, and my 1911s have heavier-than-standard recoil springs. It just makes sense to minimize stress on the firearm as much as possible. I am fond of my handguns and want them to last.

Plus-P ammunition can raise the performance bar for your handgun, but a tradeoff is more recoil and muzzle blast. In some cases it is worth it, such as when a little more velocity is needed to ensure reliable bullet expansion. Velocity increase is modest, however. On average, +P ammo is about 50 to 100 fps faster than standard ammo, sometimes less. In fact, I have encountered some +P loads that were slower than some standard loads available. As always, choose ammo wisely based on your needs.

The shooter considering using +P ammunition should follow the same safety precautions advisable with any ammunition. Make sure the firearm is in excellent condition and is approved by the manufacturer for the ammunition. If it's an autoloader, make sure the recoil spring is properly tensioned for the ammunition. And make sure the ammunition is from a reliable source and loaded to SAAMI specifications.

Plus-P loads can, in some cases, boost the velocity of short-barreled .38 handguns enough to ensure reliable expansion. However, they do result in added stress on a firearm.

Commercially available +P cartridges


Cartridges that are commonly boosted with +P pressures are the 9 mm Luger, .45 ACP, and .38 Special, which are all cartridges that date from the dawn of the 20th Century.

There has been significant improvement in metallurgy and quality since the first guns in those calibers have been made, with the result that higher pressures are now safe in modern firearms. Many models will specify to the degree they can use +P ammunition; for example, many aluminum alloy framed .38 Special revolvers should not regularly be used with +P ammunition, for while the cylinder is capable of withstanding the pressures, the added force will increase wear and reduce the service life of the gun.

SAAMI specifications for common +P cartridges are as follows:

Cartridge, Standard pressure, +P pressure, Notes
9 × 19 mm, 35,000, 38,500, 10% increase
.38 Special, 17,000, 18,500, 9% increase
.45 ACP, 21,000, 23,000, 9.5% increase
.38 Auto, 26,500, 36,500, 38% increase to make .38 Super
.45 Colt, 14,000, 25,000, 79% increase, Ruger only load
The +P+ designation is not currently used by the SAAMI, but is used by some manufacturers to designate loads that exceed the +P SAAMI specification. One source lists the 9 × 19 mm +P+ loading as having a pressure of 42,000 psi, an 18% increase over the standard pressure of 35,000 psi, and the .38 Special +P+ as 22,000, a 29% increase over the standard pressure.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:31 PM   #6
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Any benefits over the steel cased?

Are there any benefits of using higher pressure rounds? Sometimes I see people say "+P 9mm is better" or whatever. I just see that term used. What are advantages and disadvantages over it?
Slip:

I have made a leap here, assuming you are shooting a 9mm semi-automatic.

Steel cased rounds (Wolf) are less expensive. Wolf has its adherants and its detractors. Steel cased ammo is generally (if not always) non-reloadable. Assuming you are not (yet) a reloader, and if you want to try to save some money, buy a box of Wolf, and shoot it to see how well it runs in your pistol.

Assuming you are relatively new to guns and have the 9mm auto, Walmart (recently) has had Winchester (White Box) 9mm range loads 115 grain FMJ at pretty cheap prices. Buy a lot of that ammo for target practice.

In response to your original post:

Grains are the weight of the bullet, there are 7,000 grains to a pound. Typical 9mm bullet weights are 115 and 124 grains, but you can get lighter or heavier bullets.

FMJ = Full Metal Jacket - usually a rounded nose for a 9mm - a good target bullet

JHP = Metal Jacketed Hollow Point - usually designed for greater expansion - a defensive bullet

JSP - Semi jacketed with an exposed lead nose - target or defensive, but probably not as good as the FMJ or JHP

Pressure is developed inside the cartridge case and chamber when the powder (propellant) is ignited by the primer. More pressure usually equates to more velocity. More velocity usually equates to more engergy. Energy = 1/2 [mass (weight) x velocity squared]. More energy (depending on the bullet type) usually means more "knock-down" power.

Note the liberal use of "usually" as there are many variables at play in any given load and target combination.

Cane has provided a good response on +P. Do not shoot ammo labled as +P unless your pistol was designed for +P.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:28 PM   #7
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Grains - a measurement of weight. 7000 grains = 1 pound. Bullet are measured in grains, powder charges are measure in grains.

Brands - Kind of like Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge vs Kia. They each have their nitch. In my shooting lifetime Remington was the leader 30 years ago. They have rested on their laurels and only recently started loading "new technology" ammo. They could be equated with Chevrolet/GM. Winchester has been kind of like Ford, steady consistent quality with the occasional innovation. Federal was a bargain basement brand 30 years ago. They are now an industry leader in many respects, kind of the Dodge. PMC is the Kia or Hyundai (not just because they, too, are from South Korea). Quality left a bit to be desired a few years ago, but they are very competitive today. Norma is the Volvo or Saab of ammo (both Scandanavian). Higher priced, but higher quality also. Wolf is the Yugo (a car for some of you youngsters)ammo. It will get you from point A to point B and save you a few bucks.

The case is like the gasket. It provides the seal for the high pressure gasses. The case must expand enough during firing to seal off the gasses, yet contract or bounce back to allow extraction. Brass is the preferred metal. It has the characteristics that allow these things to happen. Aluminum can be made to do this (Blazer from CCI). Steel can be made to do this (Wolf, etc). Steel must have some sort of protective coating applied. Laquer was the most common, but it has the tendancy to melt and gum up the chamber. The AK/SKS/Mosin Nagant were designed with a laquered case in mind. The severe body tapers of the cases allows them to work well with laquered steel cases. .223/5.56mm does not have the same kind of taper and sometimes has trouble digesting laquered steel cases. Other protective coatings are used like polymer (plastic) and zinc (galvanizing) (see silver bear ammo). Plastic cases have been experimented with over the years. Most of the time there is a metal case head and a plastic body. This kinid of case is not common today.

IMHO, use the type of ammo the weapon was designed for. An AK-47 was designed for the steel cases and works fine with it. The AR-15 was designed for the brass case. Steel cased ammo may work fine in some AR's and very poorly in others.

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Old 11-18-2009, 04:24 PM   #8
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Any benefits over the steel cased?
steel cased ammo is cheap. it should NEVER be used as defensive rounds. the steel casings can stick in a chamber rendering your weapon useless. on a range doing target practice this is not an issue. in a defensive situation it can kill you.

whatever round you choose for self defense purposes fire several hundred rounds with your carry weapon and make sure it functions properly with that round.

i have seen folks carry rounds that they have never tried in their guns. boggles my mind as to why they would trust their lives to untested ammunition in their weapon just to save a few sheckles,

i fire my carry rounds every year and replace with new. each box of new rounds i test fire a few rounds to make sure. springs wear and the gun function changes over time and use.

anyway my point is pick a defensive round and test it. dont rely on range ammo or cheap ammo or handloads or reloads for defensive applications.
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:35 PM   #9
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I don't really understand what differences between brands, grains, etc are and I want to learn.
should have added this in my other reply.

grain is a measure of weight. whether it is bullet weight or powder weight.

when you see grain on the side of a box of ammo it is refering to the weight of the actual bullet noth the weight of the total round. 7000grains is 1 pound.

there are two main schools of thought in bullet weight. the big heavy bullet school and the light fast school. a lot of people like big heavy bullets that will go through the target leaving a big permanent wound channel that leaks fluids fast. the other school is the light fast thought that favors a lighter bullet and a much faster velocity that does its damage from kinetic shock.

both ways work. its personal preference mainly. the .45acp has around 100 years of proof of concept in warfare to the big slow heavy bullet theory. the light fast thought only kicked in around the 60's when the .223/5.56 showed up. the 9mm/.38cal is a common round because it is easy to control and shoot. the .45cal takes more practice and requires greater skill in general.

those arent the only rounds as there are mixes of the two in various calibers from .22 to .500. typically a bigger bullet going faster does more damage tot he target. there is no hard fast rule but in general to be effective the bullet in a handgun needs to hit its target and have enough energy to go through the target. this rules out a lot of rounds like the .25 acp and .32acp as being too light to be reliable. they can kill but they cannot do it reliably.

most people favour rounds of at least .38special or bigger.
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:58 AM   #10
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Wow thanks guys! All of this information was extremely helpful.
I have read each post about 5 times and I think I pretty much have a handle on it. I kinda just need to get in the game more

Ask me questions about it and I'll see if I was paying attention, kinda like a test :P

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