Assault Rifle vs Battle Rifle….What’s the difference?

Is there a difference? If so, WHAT is the difference? Before we explore this topic, we must first understand the differences in “full power” rifle ammunition and “intermediateR…

Source: Assault Rifle vs Battle Rifle….What’s the difference?


Assault Rifle vs Battle Rifle….What’s the difference?

Is there a difference? If so, WHAT is the difference?

Before we explore this topic, we must first understand the differences in “full power” rifle ammunition and “intermediate” ammunition. Full power ammunition can be used for a wider variety of purposes than the intermediate loads. But they both have drawbacks that will be later discussed.

Full power rifle ammunition usually consists of large heavy rounds. These bullets usually have an exceptionally long effective range and can be quite powerful. The .30-06 Springfield, the 7.62x51mm NATO, the .308 Winchester, the 7.62x54mmR are some of the most popular full power rifle rounds in the world. Their weights range from 147 grain up to 185 grain or larger. Intermediate cartridges are bullets that are slightly less powerful but still offer an impressive maximum effective range. One main drawback is that they sometimes don’t offer impressive penetration of common materials such as brick, concrete, thin steel, or other common construction materials. Popular intermediate rounds include the 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm and the 5.8x42mm.

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Pictured above. From Left to right AK 47/SKS standard round (123 grain). AK-74 standard round (53 grain), and the M-16/M-4/AR-15 (62 grain) Standard round. All of these are "intermediate rounds" and are used in ASSAULT rifles. They are NOT as big and heavy as rounds used in BATTLE rifles.


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 Pictured Above. From Left to Right The 7.62x54mmR (181 grains) Russian Cartridge used in the Mosin-Nagant and the SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle. The 7.62x51 NATO (147 grains) used in the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle. Both of these are FULL POWER ROUNDS used in BATTLE RIFLES. The last round on the right is and INTERMEDIATE round used in an ASSAULT rifle-the 7.62x39mm (123-124 grains) used by the AK47/SKS. Note the difference in weights between battle rifle rounds an assault rifle rounds.

Historical Overview

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, armies around the world used rifles that shot FULL POWER rounds like the .30-06 Springfield, or the 7.62x54mmR. These rifles were called BATTLE RIFLES. Examples of these Rifles include the Russian Mosin-Nagant which used the 7.62x54mmR cartridge, the American M1 Garand used by American forces during WWII which shot the .30-06 Springfield, the Belgian FN FAL (Arguably the most used and most mass produced Battle rifle in the past century) which shoots the 7.62×51 NATO and the American M14 which shoots the 7.62x51mm NATO round. These are extremely capable cartridges. In sportsman terms, you can use these bullet to hunt dangerous North American game and some medium sized African game. But these powerful rounds came with their drawbacks. One drawback was weight. These bullets were large. A soldier on a long patrol really couldn’t carry a great deal of ammunition. A second drawback was over penetration. At assault distances of less than 100 meters, these powerful rounds often over penetrated human targets. This resulted in potential collateral damage and being faced with an enemy that kept fighting because all of the bullets energy wasn’t expended inside of the body. A third drawback of battle rifles was mobility. These rifles were often quite heavy (weighing 10lbs+) and had long barrels in excess of 20 inches.

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Pictured above. FN FAL Battle rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO (Photo Courtesy of

During World War II, The Germans sought to revolutionized the way wars were fought in every way possible. German Airborne paratroopers were issued a rifle that was lighter, had a shorter barrel, and had a selective fire switch that could alternate between fully automatic and semi automatic fire. It was called the “Sturmgewehr 44” or STG 44 (literally translates into “Storm Gun”. This gun was lighter, more mobile and had a shorter barrel than all of its foreign counterparts during the war. An assault or “Sturm” could be carried out a lot more efficiently with this gun. It utilized the 8x33mm Kurz round. The 8×33 mm Kurz was THE FIRST intermediate Cartridge (Nearly ballistically Identical to the 7.62×39). It was MORE powerful than any handgun round, but less powerful than the full size rifle rounds that were being used in Germany. Ask ANY gun nut or firearms historian “what was the ORIGINAL Assault rifle?” “What is the grand daddy of ALL Assault rifles?” and they will tell you its The STG 44 .After WWII, the Allies scramble over this concept and the idea of the Modern “assault rifle” along with less powerful Intermediate was conceived.

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Pictured above. The STG 44 chambered in 8x33mm Kurz. What Modern firearm does it resemble?


 The Birth of the Modern Assault Rifle

Modern Armies realized that their soldiers could carry MORE ammunition if they employed weapons that utilized intermediate cartridges. The faster your soldiers can move, the more efficient your battled plans will be. The Germans showed the world this when they dominated the world’s leading armies by utilizing “Blitzkrieg”. After WWII, We started to see an evolution with the World’s Armies. The Russians switched from the Large bulky Mosin-Nagant to the AK 47. The Americans switched from the large overpowered M-1 Garand and M-14 to the M-16. The German Army switched from the large G3 to the G41 and later the G36. Image result for g3 battle rifle

 Pictured above. G3 Battle Rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO.

Modern Role of Battle Rifles and their powerful cartridges.

In spite of widespread evolution, Battles rifles AND their respective ammunition have managed to retain a critical role in modern combat (and sporting purposes).

 Versatility of Battle Rifles

Battle rifles have been modernized to accept upgrades that their WWII counterparts could only dream of. These technical upgrades include, polymer butt stocks, folding butt stocks, tactical rail mounts to fix scopes and other magnified optics, and modernizations in metallurgy. Advancements in metallurgy and polymer science allow for weapons to be a lot more durable but yet nearly twice as light as their antiquated grand parents. These Modernized versions of Battle Rifles are called “Enhanced Battle  Rifles” Or simply EBR. EBR’s have more of a “Tactical” look and have more external polymer components (extremely tough synthetic materials). They also tend to be more cosmetically customizable. These customizations may include different color schemes to mimic camouflage of different terrains and elaborate muzzle brakes.

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Pictured above. From left to right. The M14 battle rifle chambered in 7.62x51 NATO. Next is the M14 EBR. On the EBR, it is important to Note the Polymer pistol grip addition, Scope, Synthetic butt stock, and the front hand guard. Same gun but with a modernized twist.

EBRs are usually a vital component of a combat squad. The previously mentioned  “overpowered” “FULL POWER” rounds can engaged targets behind thicker cover, and have nearly twice the maximum effective range as assault rifles. Some combat squads have soldiers that carry EBR’s that can engage targets at farther distances than the squad’s riflemen, but slightly less distance than an actual sniper. These soldiers are called “Designated Marksmen”. The rifles are called “Designated Marksmen Rifles” or “DMR’s”. At the basic level, an EBR CAN be a DMR, and a DMR CAN be an EBR. It is important to note that the old antiquated battle rifles did not become extinct, they just evolved.

What other roles can these full powered rounds fulfill?

Other than being sniping and marksmen rounds, full powered rifle rounds are also useful in crew served weapons. Some examples of these weapons that fire these cartridges are the The Russian PKP Pecheneg, The American M240, The Russian PKM and the American Mark 48. These systems are called “Medium Machine Guns” or MMG’s (In contrast to Light Machine Guns that fire Intermediate rounds or Heavy Machine Guns that fire Extremely large Anti-Material Rounds) Their purpose is to provide medium range suppressive fire with excellent penetration against regular cover such as brick, stone, wood, sheet metal or any basic construction materials.

Image result for PKMPictured above. Russian PKM chambered in 7.62x54mmR


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Pictured above. American M240B chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO
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 Pictured above Russian PKP Pecheneg chambered in 7.62x54mmR
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Pictured above. Recognize this Vietnam Era system? If you know the name of it in the comment section.

All gun photos courtesy of

All ammo photos courtesy of


Like this Article? Post questions in the comment section.



Ammo 101…Self Defense vs. Practice

“What is practice ammo?” “What is self defense ammo?” “What’s the difference between a Full metal Jacket and a Total metal jacket?” “What exactly is the safest and cheapest to use at a gun range?” “Why do some manufacturers make weaker than normal ammo?”

Practice ammunition is self-explanatory.  It is basically a COST effective ammunition that a gun owner can take to the gun range to hone his/her skills. Contrary to popular belief, BULLETS ARE NOT MADE ENTIRELY OF LEAD. They usually consist of a lead core and a metal coat called a “jacket”. Self defense ammunition is a more specialized type of ammunition design specifically for antipersonnel use. There are countless types of self defense ammunition types-from Federal Guard Dog Ammo, to Hornady Critical Defense, to Federal HydraShok, to Hollow Points. We will give a thorough explanation of a few different types of Practice ammunition types and Self defense ammo types.

“FULL” Metal Jacket vs. “TOTAL” Metal Jacket

They may sound like the same thing. But they are actually different. Both CAN be used as practice ammo AND self defense ammo. Full Metal Jacket (FMJ’s) bullets consist of a lead core that is “jacketed” with another metal. This metal is usually copper. FMJ’s have an expose section of lead to the rear of the projectile with it touches the gunpowder. It is NOT completed encased in the metal jacket. Since the public has become aware of the health consequences of lead, ammunition manufacturers have pushed the idea of “Total” Metal Jacket bullets. These bullets consist of a lead core that is COMPLETELY jacketed in copper. They are also called TCJ’s (Total Copper Jacket). Please see figure below.

Figure A1

Full Metal Jackets on LEFT. Total Metal Jackets on RIGHT. Notice how the lead core is exposed on the FMJ’s? Do you see how TMJ’s significantly decrease the shooter’s contact with lead?

If you want to avoid putting a hole in your wallet AND avoid LEAD exposure, TMJ’s are the way to go. Do your own research and find out which bullets are TMJ’s. I am in Atlanta Metro. Atlanta Arms sells re-manufactured ammo. Their labeling says “TCJ” on it. That’s all I use at the range.

Steel Case vs. Brass Case

We all know what color brass is…right? If not, take a look at Figure A1 above, Brass is the same color as those slugs in that picture. Whether you are a beginner shooter, or advanced shooter, you need to know the difference between Brass casings and Steel casings. Brass casings are very convenient if you plan on reloading (re-manufacturing) ammunition. Most American manufacturers produce brass cased ammo. You will hear experts recommend Brass instead of steel. See figure below.

Figure A2

The gray colored cartridge is a Steel Cased round. The golden colored cartridge is Brass. (Can you guess the calibers?)

If you see steel cased ammo on the shelves here in America, it will LIKELY be from a foreign manufacturer. Monarch, and Wolf are some decent examples of steel cased ammo. So, which one is “better”? Which one is Safer? Watch the video below.


Video A1

Hopefully the video answered your question(s). The reputation for steel cased ammo is dirty burning, and more likely to jam in American guns. I wouldn’t dare shoot Steel Cased Ammo out of my AR. The AR has too many moving parts and is heavily reliant on gas in order to cycle out empty casings and operate smoothly. I will be more apt to use steel cased ammo in foreign guns that are built for it, Like AK and SK variants.

Self Defense Ammo Weight vs Practice Ammo Weight

If you have ever been on the market for bullet you will notice that they come in different weights. For example, the .40 S&W is MOST commonly available in 165 gr, 180 gr and 200 gr. (Source If you get regular practice ammunition from Walmart, or Academy, you will likely be getting the 180 gr. HOWEVER, if you decide to get Federal Guard Dog ammunition for Self Defense, you will be getting 135 gr. One key thing to note with self defense ammo is that they are somewhat exotic. Technological advances in metallurgy and gunpowder has made the self defense ammo market extremely competitive. If you observe all the different ammo types on, you will see that there are quite a few different types of exotic self defense ammo. SO, whats the price difference? In comparison, self defense ammo is considerably MORE expensive than practice ammo. For example, if you were to get a box of 50 rounds of 180 gr FMJ .40 S&w, you may pay around $17.99. If you were to get a box of 25 of Winchester PDX Defender Hollow point Self Defense ammo, you will pay around $26.50. Generally speaking, you will pay nearly $1 a round for decent self defense ammo. Take a look at the next few videos in regards practice ammo vs self defense ammo.


Ballistics 101

What is “Ballistics?” “What is Muzzle velocity?” “What is ft/lbs energy?” “How does barrel length effect muzzle velocity”? “Do bullets travel in straight lines”? “What does {point blank} mean”?

Simply put, “Ballistics” is just a MEASURE of a bullet performance-when it leaves the gun (internal ballistics), while it is in flight (external ballistics), and when it impacts a target (terminal ballistics). Let’s take a look at these categories AND how to judge a bullet’s performance based on looking at its “ballistics”.

Internal Ballistics

Internal Ballistics is a numerical value that has to do with PROPULSION and ACCELERATION. You usually see Internal ballistics expressed in terms of “Muzzle Velocity” and “ft/lbs” of energy. The muzzle velocity is measured by a radar device that sits a few feet in front of the gun. GENERAL RULE of THUMB. The longer the barrel, the higher the muzzle velocity for a particular caliber. For example, the muzzle velocity of a 9mm being shot out of a 5 inch barrel will be HIGHER than the same bullet being shot out of a 3 inch barrel. This is occurs because of two basic reasons.  Firstly, the bullet is no longer assisted by the spiral grooves inside of the barrel once it exits the barrel. Once the bullet leaves the barrel it is relatively “independent” and is left at the mercy of the wind, GRAVITY, air friction, humidity etc. Secondly, the rapidly expanding gases inside the chamber also play a critical role in propulsion and acceleration. Once all of these high pressure gases are expelled, the bullet is left independent. Muzzle velocity IS THE FASTEST POINT at which the bullet will travel. The bullet will get slower as it flies down range (just like a football in flight).

Figure B1

Internal Ballistics Chart for common handgun calibers. NOTE. This ONLY gives you how the bullet behaves upon being propelled out of the gun. This is probably the most commonly referred to source of HANDGUN bullet power because handguns will be used at short ranges.

External Ballistics

External Ballistics is an observation of how a bullet behaves in flight. BULLETS DO NOT TRAVEL IN STRAIGHT LINES. (see figure B2 below) Bullets travel straight when leaving the gun, they rise, and then they begin to “drop”. GRAVITY IS A BULLET’S BIGGEST ENEMY. If you were to draw a line that represents a bullet’s flight path, it will look like a slight slope that gradually decreases downward as the distance increases (just like a football). The ultimate goal for a bullet is to maintain as much of its muzzle velocity as possible throughout its flight path. Every caliber has a different ability to fight gravity and air friction and stay airborne. Ballistics Coefficient (abbreviated “BC”) is a bullet’s ability to resist air friction and stay airborne. A high number means the bullet is more efficient at resisting air friction (negative acceleration). A high number also means that the bullet will retain MORE velocity as it moves down range.  Basically, BC is a measure of how Aerodynamic a bullet is. It is important to note that BC is merely a measure of a bullet’s ability to resist air friction. A high BC is NOT an indicator of how “good”  a round is.

Figure B2

Bullet trajectory of a .223 Remington (AR-15 bullet) out to 200 yards. NOTE. Bullet DOES NOT travel in a straight line.

Figure B3

.40 S&W (180 gr) on Left and .50BMG (750 gr) on right. Can you guess which round has a higher BC? If you guessed the one on the right you are correct. Just look at the shapes. Which one looks more aerodynamic? The .40 S&W has a BC of .164. The .50 BMG has a BC of 1.050. According to these numbers the .50 BMG is nearly 10 times as efficient as resiting air friction than the .40 S&W. Source

Bullet Drop

An important subset of External ballistics measures bullet trajectory-Bullet Drop. Simply put, “Bullet Drop” is a set of figures, either expressed in a line graph or a numerical chart, that illustrates the effect that gravity has on a particular bullet at various ranges. You may hear an experienced shooter compliment a round a say it shoots “flat”.  “Flat” simply means that the bullet has an efficient trajectory and resists gravity and air effectively.  Bullet drop charts are especially important for hunters, competitive shooters, and police/military snipers. For instance, a .300 Winchester Magnum may shoot “flat” out to 320 yards. This 320 yard distance is called “Point Blank Range”. Point blank range is the MAXIMUM “can’t miss distance” for a particular round. Beyond 320 yards, this round may start to “drop” (For instance the drop rate may be -6 inches at 600 yards). To compensate for this, an experienced shooter will have to aim HIGHER than the intended impact point in order for the bullet to hit on the desired location. Every bullet has its own unique drop rate. These unique drop rates are also influenced by humidity, wind, elevation, barrel length, bullet weight and bullet composition.

Fig B4

Bullet drop chart for common large game hunting cartridges. “300”, “600” etc indicate distance. -1.1, -7.5 etc indicate bullet drop rate at a particular distance. Question. What is the bullet drop rate for the 338 Lapua at 900 yards? The correct answer is -20.8 inches. This means in order to hit the desired target, the shooter needs to aim at least 20.8 inches HIGH. If the shooter doesn’t aim high enough, the round will simply bury itself in the dirt. (Just like a quarterback needing to LOB a football 60 yrds instead of throwing it straight).

Terminal Ballistics

Terminal ballistics is the study of how a bullet behaves when it impacts its target. Velocity, bullet type (soft point, hollow point, rifle, flat point, round nose), and target type all play important factors in terminal ballistics of a round. This is an EXTREMELY broad subject. For our purposes we will focus on basic characteristics of common rounds and how they behave. Panthera Armory believes in the utilization of visual observation as a learning tool. Ever heard of “ballistics gel tests”? These tests, even though they can be flawed, vividly illustrate how rounds behave when they hit soft tissue.

Video B1

This is how an Full Metal Jacket .45ACP behaves. The blunt shape of this round makes it go “through and through”.

Video B2

This is how the AR-15 bullet behaves. Notice how the round tumbles. This is called the “Yaw” effect. Other experts call it the “boomerang effect”. This is common among rifle rounds because of their high velocity. The yaw effect is responsible for causing massive trauma to surrounding tissues. This is how such a small rifle round such as the 5.56 can cause impressive terminal ballistics.

If you need further research on TERMINAL Ballistics Check out Brass Fetcher on youtube. By far the BEST slow motion close up Ballistic gelatin tests on youtube. You see the bullets deform and the gel oscillate from the kinetic energy transfer.

What is “caliber”? What is it a measure of?

“Whats a bigger caliber .40 or .380?” “Whats the difference between a 9mm and a .357?” “What does {caliber} mean?”

Caliber is basically the measure of the diameter of the projectile being fired. It is also a direct measurement of the diameter of the bore of a particular firearm. This measure can either be in fraction of an inch (i.e. .380) OR in millimeters (i.e. 9mm).

Common handgun calibers comparison

One common thing to remember in regards to caliber is that SOME calibers are not EXACT measurements. For instance, the .44 Remington magnum is NOT exactly .44 of an inch. It is closer to .429 of an inch than .44 of an inch. Another thing to remember about calibers is that we commonly see SAME caliber bullets stuffed in different size casings. For example, take a look at the figure above. If you did a little math, you will see that the .357 and the 9mm are the same diameter. The .40 S&W and the 10mm are also the same diameter. Let’s observe how this looks in a rifle example.

From left to right .308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum (Missing is the Winchester 30-30, and the 300 Remington Ultra magnum)

These 5 cartridges are all in the “30 caliber family”. The projectile of ALL 5 of these cartridges measure’s .308 of an inch. These are essentially THE same SLUG stuffed in a different casing. “So which one is more powerful?” Take a wild guess between the 3 in the photo as to which one is more powerful. If you picked the one on the far right, you are correct. GENERAL RULE OF THUMB. Look at the size of the casing. The LARGER the casing, THE MORE gunpowder its going to hold. The MORE GUN POWDER the casing holds the faster the bullet is going to travel. The faster that bullet travels the more kinetic energy its going to have etc..

GRAIN-The STANDARD unit of Bullet weight measurement

You may hear or read of different bullets being 200 grains (often abbreviated “gr”), or 180 gr. This is the WEIGHT of the bullet/slug/projectile. For example, The .40 S&W is available in 135 gr, 155gr, 165 gr and 180 gr. Lets ask ourselves a few common sense questions and establish a few GENERAL ground rules (there are a few exceptions with high performance ammo manufacturers) 1. The LIGHTER the projectile, the higher the velocity (bullet will move faster through the air) but will not penetrate as deeply as a heavier projectile. 2. The HEAVIER the projectile the slower it will travel, but will work wonders when it comes to penetrating surfaces and retaining momentum. SOO..if you had a .40 S&W pistol with FMJ’s and you wanted to PUNCH THROUGH A WINDSHIELD (or sheet rock, or sheet metal, or plywood) and knock out a target in the front seat, which weight would you use? 135 gr or 180 gr? The 180 gr choice would be more practical. The slower moving 180 gr will retain MUCH more of its kinetic energy than the much FASTER moving 165 gr.

“Sooo…since a 230 gr .45ACP is a bigger bullet than the .357 Magnum which weighs 158 gr, is it more powerful?” The Answer is NO. Take a look at the figure below. 

.357 S&W Magnum (158 gr) on left .380 ACP (95 gr) in middle and .45 ACP (230gr) on right.

Obviously the .45ACP bullet diameter is wider than the .357 magnum. The .45 ACP also weighs more. SO…which one generates more power? To answer this question, Remember the GENERAL rule of thumb we previously discussed. That .357 magnum has a LOT more powder in its casing. This allows the .357’s 158 gr projectile to travel a LOT faster than the 230 gr .45 ACP. This considerable advantage in velocity allows the .357 to generate over TWICE the energy of the LARGER .45 ACP. GENERAL RULE OF THUMB…A LARGER DIAMETER CALIBER IS [NOT] ALWAYS MORE POWERFUL.


What is an “Extraction”? What is Threat Assessment?….How Important are they?

“I’m right handed…and I carry on my right hip at 5 o’ I need to learn how to extract my weapon with my left hand?” “Should I learn to draw my weapon with the opposite hand?” “If I’m in a tight situation will I be able to extract or draw my weapon with ONE hand”? These are questions that every RESPONSIBLE Conceal Carry Holder SHOULD BE ASKING themselves. To start off… Let’s look at a scenario I experienced a few months back…

Its 10am, mid December about 40 degrees. I’m walking to the bus stop. I hear a large dog bark aggressively, but I couldn’t determine WHERE the dog was barking. SO, I stop and made an about face to figure out the dog’s LOCATION. I see a medium sized healthy American Pit Bull Terrier sprinting down the stairs and eventually made his way on to the ground. Distance was about 50 yards. Dog was running towards me, mouth wide open, ears slicked back. I hear the owner screaming at the dog…”Molly!!!…you better not bite him!!!..Molly!! Leave him alone!!!” Molly gets about 5 yards from me and I hold my ground and look her in the eye and she retreats. Luckily for Molly I’m a dog lover…or else she would’ve ended up being vulture meat. Let’s take a look at some variables in this scene…because I learned a LOT.

Threat Assessment

Know when its time to run. Of course you can’t outrun a pit bull terrier. I was thinking….”If this dog bites me on my right forearm..will I be able to extract my gun with my opposite hand and put the dog down?” “Should I extract my weapon and discharge a warning shot to scare the dog”?  “What If I draw my weapon and shoot and miss the dog?” “Surely this 180gr  .40 S&W FMJ at 5 yrds would go through the dog like paper and tear up somebody’s car…or worse”. “Let me hold my ground and see what Molly does because she hears her owner’s voice yelling at her.” All of these were calculations I had to make in less than 4 seconds. Luckily, Molly was a dog that just wanted to play. I actually made the right call in this instant. I made eye contact with the owner afterwards and told her “MOLLY NEEDS A LEASH!!” This incident with Molly also made me consider another discipline in the realm of RESPONSIBLE CONCEAL CARRYING. The EXTRACTION.

The Opposite Hand Extraction

Later that night, I practice on extracting my weapon at home with the opposite hand. I was thinking “What IF Molly had been an aggressive dog and she latched on to my shooting hand and disabled it?” If Molly had been a REAL attack dog…I would been on the ground instantly and she would’ve been on my neck. See how quickly things happen? Police, Troopers, Soldiers, and anybody with ANY type of Paramilitary training practice and train on this. “What if my shooting hand is disabled?…Can I draw my weapon and fire a few point blank shots with the opposite hand?” ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS AND ADDRESS THE PROBLEM. IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE. PRACTICE THE OPPOSITE HAND EXTRACTION WITH AN EMPTY CHAMBER.

Issue with this extraction?…We didn’t see him draw with the other hand. What if the OTHER arm was shot and disabled??


What type of ammo should I use in my conceal carry firearm?

“What are the pros and cons of hollow points?” “What are the pros and cons of FMJ’s (full metal jackets)?” “Are hollow points barbaric?” “Do hollow points make me look blood thirsty?” “What about Xtreme Penetrators”? These are questions that are asked by the common first time gun owner. Lets say you just purchased your gun, it fits well, its concealable, and you are fairly decent with shot placement. The gun store clerk shoves a box of “Hornady Critical Defense” ammo towards you and fiercely recommends it for personal defense. Could you visualize or articulate the difference between Hornady Critical Defense rounds and regular ol’ bullets (FMJ’s)?

Full Metal Jackets (FMJ’s)

A full metal jacket is usually consists of a SOFT metal core that is encased in a harder metal such as brass. FMJ’s are usually referred to as “ball” ammunition in the military. Full Metal Jackets do a decent job at damaging or penetrating HARD surfaces such as windshields, sheet rock, sheet metal, tin, stone, wood and ceramics.  They also devastate soft targets such as flesh and ballistics gelatin.

FMJ Drawbacks

One main drawback of FMJ’s is that they have a tendency to overpenetrate-they don’t stop until they’ve expended ALL of their kinetic energy. By the time FMJ’s have expended all of their kinetic energy they may have passed through an attacker’s body.

Common Calibers in Full metal jackets

If you are shooting an assailant with FMJ’s from a high velocity CONCUSSIVE caliber like a .357 SIG, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, or a 10mm, you may be increasing the chances of overpenetration. This phenomenon occurs when the projectile FAILS to stop traveling because it has not expended all of its kinetic energy inside the target (this is also called a “through and through”, or an “exit wound”). These overpenetrators are free to fly around and tear up someones engine block on their car, punch through somebody’s vinyl siding, kill somebody’s dog, or even ricochet and kill an innocent bystander.

Jacketed Hollow Points (JHP’s)

A hollow point is basically a bullet that has been hollowed out. This hollowing out causes the bullet to expand when it hits a soft target such as ballistics gel, flesh, or water. This design allows hollow points to expend nearly ALL of their kinetic energy INSIDE of the soft target. Expansion causes the surface area of the bullet to increase substantially. This virtually eliminates the possibility of over penetration. Just visualize FMJ’s as spears. Spears pierce and cut straight through a target. Now imagine Hollow points being like sledge hammers. Sledge hammers crush,Smash, rip, and tear through things. The spear and the sledge hammer are both incredibly lethal, but they work in different ways.


Hollow points are ILLEGAL to be used by armies around the world according to the Hague Convention. But they are the ammunition of choice for Law Enforcement in America (hmmm).

Hollow Point Drawbacks

One performance drawback of the Hollow point design is the fact that it relies on liquid or semi liquid targets (like flesh, water, or ballistics gelatin) for expansion. If it strikes a hard surface such as a windshield, it may not punch through. Another performance drawback is that the hollow point expansion can be defeated if an attacker has on THICK clothing like a sweat shirt.Thick clothing will cause premature expansion and basically cause the hollow point to behave like a weak FMJ. “Hornady Critical Defense” solves this problem by filling the hollow point cavity with a rubber like polymer. This eraser-like material DELAYS expansion when/if the bullet strikes heavy clothing and allows the hollow point to behave like a hollow point should.

Count up the cost and weigh your options. Look at the pros and cons of both ammo types. Some gun owners alternate FMJ’s with JHP’s in the magazines to get the benefits of both. DO what works for you.

Should I be concerned about the capacity of my handgun?…

“What is the importance of capacity?” “Do I really NEED 15+1?” “Does it really take an entire magazine to eliminate a threat?” These are questions to ask yourself BEFORE you make a financial commitment to a conceal carry handgun. Some gun owners advocate carrying the maximum amount allowed by comfort. While some gun owners sacrifice a high capacity magazine for the sake of an easier concealment. To be frank, its not going to take 15 rounds to neutralize your typical threat (unless the suspect is on bath salts, PCP, or has a metal endoskeleton). HOWEVER high capacity magazines DO play a critical role. Lets look a this scenario.

The Great X Factor…Multiple Assailants

Man pulls into his garage with his family. As his automatic garage door closes, one suspect grabs the bottom of the garage door and holds it. This allows his armed companion to slide under the door to proceed to assault the driver. As the suspect opens the driver’s door, he his showered with 3-4 shots to the torso and flees out of the garage.  The driver pursues the assailant that was holding his garage door and donates a pair of shots to him and then delivers 3 more shots to another accomplice. I counted approximately 10 or 11 shots. (Watch closely and tell me if my math is off).

What if the property owner had a Subcompact conceal carry weapon like the Glock 42, Or the Glock 27, or the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard? All of these are VERY popular conceal carry weapons that typically have a magazine capacity of less than 10 rounds. If he had been carrying one of these low capacity weapons and encountered multiple  DETERMINED attackers…he and his family in the vehicle would have been in serious danger. Compact or full size pistols will typically offer well over 10 rounds while still being highly maneuverable.  Its not barbaric. Its just a case of “You’d rather have it and not need it…than need it and not have it”.  Just remember..if you choose a lower capacity weapon (less than 10 rounds)…be ready to flee if necessary. It may be difficult to hold your ground against multiple assailants.