Remington Bulldog Project, Part 2

On with the project! When we left off I had the gun essentially finished but for the abbreviated loading lever and front sight. Good thing that I had one to practice on, because I messed up the one from my gun. So I took the loading lever from my friend’s gun and went to work on it. First I bored a 3/16″ hole down the length of it, mounted it and marked the tip of the cylinder axis pin and drilled a 3/32″ hole in the end of that. I took a piece of 3/16 inch steel rod, chucked it up in the drill-press and turned the end down to 3/32″, then polished it to insure it would slide freely and engage the 3/32′ hole in the Cylinder Axis Pin to lock things firmly in place.

I made a cross-pin out of a pair of nails and secured it, slotted the loading lever to accommodate the cross-pin. The retaining assemble was then trimmed to length, inserted with a coil spring and pinned in place with a 1/16″ brass escutcheon nail. The head of the nail acts against the barrel as a stop when the loading lever is closed, and is held by spring-pressure when it is open. It can easily be pried out with a fingernail or knife-edge for disassembly.

1858Bulldog
Here’s the gun, finished but for the front-sight.

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Close-up of the loading-lever latch. To open the loading lever grasp the pins on either side, pull forward and down. Reverse the process to close it.
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Loading lever in the open position. It can actually be used to load the cap-and-ball cylinder, or will make for quick and easy loading of the cartridge cylinder. This is a fully drop-in piece, so I will finish the other cylinder-axis pin with a more conventional set-screw, and my friend can choose which system he wants.

So, the next part of the project is to mount the front sight on this gun and convert my friend’s gun.

Addendum: Done except for front-sights and a little finishing work.

1858Rembulls

Here are some detailed shots of the retaining mechanism for the loading lever.

 

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Remington Bulldog Project, Part 1

1858Remingtons

A couple of items that I have been waiting for arrived today- a pair of Pietta 1858 New Army Remington .44 Revolvers. These are cap-and-ball guns; loaded through the front of the cylinder and set off by a percussion cap set on a nipple at the rear of the cylinder. According to the BATF these are ‘non-firearms’ and so may be freely shipped between individuals. The upper gun with the white Ivory Micarta handles belongs to a friend; the lower with the wood handles is a brand new gun that I took in trade.

I don’t know how long my friend has had his gun, but has long wanted it converted into a ‘belly-gun.’ Basically a snub-nosed revolver with a bird’s-head grip. A number of people have made these and I have to admit I always thought they were nifty. I had offered to do this for my friend, and since these are technically not firearms there are no legal issues with my doing so. Not wishing to risk doing anything irreparable to my friend’s gun I set to work on mine first for practice.

Step1
The first step is disassembling the gun. The loading lever, grips and cylinder are removed.
Step2
Next I cut the barrel to the desired length- in this case 3 inches. I finished the end of the barrel and re-crowned it, then on my belt-grinder I carefully re-ground the frame to a bird’s-head profile. I then placed each grip on the frame in turn and marked the new contour on it in pencil. I ground away the excess wood and re-shaped the bottom of the grips. The grip location-pin was ground away in the re-profiling of the frame, so I will have to drill a hole in the frame for a new pin and drill the inside of the grips. This keeps them from shifting under recoil.
Step3
Mounting the grips I sanded them to match the back of the grip-frame, then removed them and re-dyed them to match the original color. I applied a penetrating acrylic sealer and when that was dry I lightly buffed the grips. I cleaned and de-greased the muzzle and back of the grip-frame and blued them with Van’s Instant Blue, then cleaned the gun thoroughly. Normally at this point in such a conversion I would drill and tap a hole in the wide part of the cylinder axis pin for a set-screw to secure it against recoil, mount a front-sight and the gun would be finished… but I had a cunning plan.
Step4
My friend has a drop-in cylinder to fire .45 Colt cartridges. Yes, the gun is called a .44 but the bore diameter is actually .452. To load this cylinder it must be taken out of the gun. The cylinder axis pin is normally retained by the loading lever, and if I did a standard ‘belly-gun’ conversion he would need to loosen the set-screw with a screwdriver each time he wished to change cylinders to load it, which would be kind of a pain. So I removed the spring-catch from the loading-lever and shortened the lever to the length of the barrel, then re-shaped it slightly to look nicer. I think there is a way to mount a spring-catch in the cylinder axis pin to keep the shortened loading lever from flopping around when the gun is fired. If so this would make reloading much easier as the cylinder axis pin could be removed in the normal manner. This has the added advantage tat the lever might still be used to load the cap-and-ball cylinder.  It may not work, and if so I can always finish his gun in the normal way and just order a new cylinder axis pin for my gun.

By this point it was already quite late, and I just didn’t feel like tackling something that complicated, so we’ll leave that for next time.

The Conventional Wisdom…

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There’s a lot of ‘conventional wisdom’ in the gun world that just ain’t so. Two that come up a lot are ‘Damascus-Barrel Shotguns aren’t safe’ or the variation, ‘Damascus-Barreled shotguns are unsafe with Smokeless loads.’ The other that has gotten a lot of discussion lately is ‘Revolvers designed for Black Powder are unsafe with smokeless loads.’

These claims are not necessarily true or false. The fact is that no one can tell you if your gun is safe over the internet. That being said let’s address these nuggets of ‘conventional wisdom.’

Starting with damascus shotguns the first thing to say is that any antique shotgun should be thoroughly examined prior to firing it, period, regardless of the composition of its barrels. Chambers should be measured for length and diameter, and examined for pits, bulges, rings, rust and cracks. Bores should be examined for the same, using proper instruments. Barrels should be examined externally for rings, bulges etc. The mechanism should be tight and free of cracks. On double-guns the barrels should be rung; a clear tone indicates a solid join between the barrels. Buzzing or vibration indicates separation of the central rib, which might be caused by hidden bulges and in any case is unsafe. There are other things that a good gunsmith can look for, and having a ‘new’ antique examined by a competent gunsmith is highly recommended. A mirror-bright bore in an antique is a warning sign that they barrel may have been honed, possibly to the point that it is too thin to be fired safely. In these cases it is vital to have the wall thickness of the barrel and chamber measured.

Another thing to be wary of is that many guns had shorter chambers than modern guns. 16-Gauge and 12-Gauge were both offered in shorter lengths than the standard 2-3/4 inch we are familiar with today. Shooting modern 2-3/4 inch shells in these guns can result in unsafe pressures, and many older guns have had their chambers rebored to longer lengths, which can result in excessive thinning at the throat of the chamber, which can render the gun unsafe. If you load your own you can load-to-length, so a shorter chamber does not, in and of itself, mean that you should not shoot the gun.

Regarding damascus barrels there is a lot of mythology about them. Some claim that these barrels were never intended for smokeless loads. Given that many manufacturers specifically stated that their guns were safe to shoot with these loads and had them ‘Nitro-proofed’ seems to give the lie to this. To this day the British Proof House will proof a damascus shotgun for smokeless powder.  Damascus Mythology is well worth reading on this topic. The common wisdom- fostered by manufacturers at the time- was that modern steels were superior to damascus. In fact the transition from damascus to modern steel barrels was done less because the modern steels were superior than because they were easier and cheaper to manufacture.

In the early years of this century Sherman Bell did a series of articles in the Double Gun Journal called ‘Finding Out for Myself.’ As part of this series he tested a number of damascus-barreled guns, some of them in dreadful condition, with modern 18,500 PSI proof loads. None of the barrels or chambers burst. Standard 12 gauge loads typically run between 6200 and 13000 psi, with most of them clustered towards the middle of that range. When he tested a damascus gun to destruction it took a load over 30,000 psi to burst the chamber. Typically when antique shotguns burst their chambers or barrels it is because a) the bore was obstructed, b) the barrel was rendered too thin by over-honing or c) an over-pressure hand-load was used.

Now, I am not going to tell you that you can shoot your damascus shotgun safely with modern loads. Some antique guns are safe to shoot, some are not. Some of those antiques have damascus barrels, some don’t. You need to have your gun properly examined before shooting it, period.

One thing I will say- if you have had your antique gun examined and determined that it is safe to shoot you would be well advised to shoot low-pressure loads through it. Not for fear of bursting the chamber or barrel, but because high-pressure loads will accelerate wear on your gun, and it has already had a working life-span or two under it’s belt. Also, if your gun isn’t nitro-proofed it might be prudent to restrict yourself to black-powder (or BP substitute) loads just to be on the safe side.

Now, regarding revolvers designed for black-powder loads the same advice applies. You should have the gun examined carefully before firing it. Check that the hammer locks positively and securely at both half and full-cock. Make sure that the cylinder locks properly in each position, both single and double-action. Ensure that the cylinder-gap is not excessively large. Check to make sure the cylinder does not have excessive end-play. make sure that the bore and chambers are in good condition. Look for erosion of the forcing cone and frame. It really is best to have the gun examined by a competent gunsmith and if there is any doubt don’t fire it, period.

Topbreaks

Regarding black-powder and smokeless loads- it’s complicated. Some guns designed for black-powder can be shot with modern loads, some can be shot with some modern loads but not others. This is, however, a highly individual thing, and needs to be handled on a gun-by-gun basis.

That being said guns designed for .22 rimfire, even the oldest, can usually be fired with modern CB caps safely if they are in good condition. These rounds fire balls or light bullets propelled only by the primer, with the sort of velocity usually associated with pellet guns rather than firearms.

Where this question comes up in particular is with guns made during the period of transition between Black and smokeless powder. Specifically top-break revolvers in .38 S&W and .32 S&W (short.) These calibers were initially loaded with Black Powder and spanned the transition to smokeless powder. S&W addressed this issue in a 1909 letter, in which they stated that all of their guns were safe to shoot with factory smokeless ammunition, but caution against using hand-loads. Since this time we have developed a wealth of information about hand loading these cartridges, but during the transition some people tried to replace BP with a similar volume of smokeless powder, with predictably disastrous results.

Modern cartridges sold in this country are loaded to SAAMI standards. Reading their website it is apparent that these standards are designed so that standard-pressure cartridges can be used safely in any gun (in good condition) that is designed to chamber that cartridge. With regard to current factory loadings in .32 & .38 S&W, these are less powerful than the original black-powder loads for these cartridges. On the Smith and Wesson forum many people report that they have fired modern loads in guns dating back as far as the 1870s without any damage to the guns. I haven’t seen anyone there report that they have damaged their guns shooting these loads, either. As long as the gun is in good condition and you are firing the round it is chambered for there shouldn’t be an issue. The exception to this are .38 S&W loads made by Buffalo Bore. These are effectively +P loads, and are designed for good-quality solid-frame guns or Webley top-breaks. They will not necessarily blow up a good S&W top break, but they are not recommended for them and it would be wise to take the manufacturer at their word.

Again, Neither I nor anyone else can tell you if your gun is safe to shoot over the internet, and if there is any doubt you need to err on the side of caution. Again, using low-pressure loads will preserve the life of your antique firearm regardless of the caliber.

In the end it is up to you; you’re an adult. Exercise due diligence and common sense, err on the side of caution and don’t trust something just because you read it on the internet… including this article.

 

 

Armed Society- Politer? No. Safer? Perhaps.

(Reprinted from Michael Tinker Pearce & Linda Pearce blog)

There is a saying that ‘An armed society is a polite society.’ This is notably, demonstrably untrue. Elizabethan England was an armed society and even a cursory glance through ‘The Elizabethan Journals’ will reveal that it was anything but polite. Modern Somalia is far from being a polite society, and America is certainly not a polite society.

OK, so not more polite- but is it safer? Yes and no. Only a vanishingly small percentage of the guns in America are ever used in a crime. Despite a rash of ‘spree killings’ and single-incident mass-shootings America experiences less violent crime per capita than it has in many decades according to law enforcement reporting- which is more comprehensive than it was at any other point in history. I do not attribute this to the presence of firearms, BTW, but it’s difficult to estimate the net effect of the presence of civilian-owned weapons. Most instances of armed self-defense do not involve injury and are never reported. Contrary to this a vastly higher percentage of the instances of criminal use of a weapon are reported (excepting rape and domestic abuse.)

For much of my adult life I possessed a carry permit and often actually carried a gun. In that time there were two instances (as a civilian) where producing a weapon ended the situation without violence.  That is the most common result of such encounters, and like most people I didn’t bother to report them.

What stands out in my mind though was an incident of armed self-defense that occurred when I was actually unarmed.  It was winter, and I was wearing a jacket partially zipped up and was generally respectable-looking. I am a large man who carries himself with confidence and I appear physically competent- exactly the sort of person that street criminals typically avoid.

I had met a friend in Pioneer Square one Friday evening and was returning to my car, which was parked under the Alaskan Way Viaduct. This area is dark and untenanted in the evening except for people like me returning to their car.  I was walking along a row of parked cars when I saw a group of five boisterous young men approaching from the opposite direction. They were dressed in hoodies and ragged jeans- typical ‘street’ attire for urban toughs. They suddenly turned and began to cross the street directly towards me and I reflexively ‘cleared my coat;’ meaning that I unzipped it and swept it back slightly as one would to prepare to draw a weapon.

The effect was electric- it was like the young men bounced off an invisible wall in mid-street and immediately turned away and went about their business. They had obviously recognized the gesture and knew what it meant; that fact alone means they almost certainly had some criminal intent. It might have been a strong-arm robbery, and armed robbery or a beat-down but we’ll never know now.

Yes, I was unarmed. But we live in an armed society, and they knew that there was a chance that I was carrying a gun. When my gesture confirmed (to them at least) that I was they were instantly deterred. Naturally I did not report this incident- I mean really, there was nothing to report. But this was an instance of effective self-defense that was only possible because a civilian might reasonably be carrying a weapon. One has to wonder how often incidents like this occur, where crime is deterred by the mere possibility that the prospective victim might be armed.

Is this an isolated incident? No.

A friend– we’ll call her Susie– does not care for firearms and will probably never own one. One evening she came home from work at dusk. The house was dim, but it was still bright outside so when she opened her front door she was silhouetted in the doorway. Down the hall she could see a man approaching her from her bedroom with a box of her stuff in his hands. Realizing that he could not see her clearly she raised both hands before her and spot-lighted him with the laser attached to her keychain (that she normally used to play with her cat) and commanded him to ‘Freeze!’ He did- these days everyone knows what a red dot means! She made him put the box down and call the police to report that he was a burglar being held at gunpoint, and would they please come get him? They did, and she was safe. Again, this was effectively armed self defense even though she had no weapon. It was only possible because it was believable to the suspect that a civilian might be armed.

Interviews with felons convicted of violent crime indicate that these criminals are far more concerned about running into an armed civilian than they are about an encounter with the police. They know the rules and conditions under which the police will generally fire. An armed civilian? In their minds all bets are off.

These are two instances where living in an armed society was a positive defense and prevented- or ended- a crime. They come from my own small circle of acquaintance; what are the odds that these events are that unusual given the very small sample group they are derived from?

An armed society is manifestly not necessarily a polite one- but America may be safer as an armed society than it might be otherwise.

Responding to a Mass Shooting/Terrorist Attack

I have a fair bit of experience shooting under stress; enough to tell you this- it isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve never done it before.  Adrenaline causes degraded fine motor control. You get tunnel vision. Time will seem to go into slow motion. These are all things that can be overcome with training. That’s the important note there- the training. Without it your reactions are likely to be, shall we say, highly unpredictable. They aren’t going to be a certainty even with training, but you are a lot more likely to do something appropriate.

As I’ve noted previously in this blog while the overall threat of violence is much diminished the scope of the threat has increased greatly. The Paris shootings heralded a new era in terrorist attacks, as we saw in California and Orlando. A mass shooting attack takes relatively little planning, is easy to equip for and is very difficult to detect and stop in advance.

Understand, if you are Joe Average living in Typical Town USA you are statistically more likely to be eaten by an alligator than to be caught in one of these incidents. But because responding to them is what this article is about let’s say you are. What should you do? Heroically open fire? No. If you aren’t trained you are likely to miss with most or all of your shots.  Those bullets will not vanish if they miss the bad guy, and he’s there because there are a lot of people. In this situation every bullet that doesn’t hit the bad guy has the potential to kill an innocent. Probably best not to start shooting- unless the bad guy is on top of you and you have no other option. It’s only moderately likely to be useful, but at least you’ll go down swinging.

If you are in a crowded area with no cover available and the gunman is close your best bet is to charge him and hope that others join you. Seriously, mob the shooter. In the rare cases that civilians stop a mass shooting that’s almost always how it happens. Incidents of armed civilians stopping these attacks are vanishingly rare. Most people are not armed, and even those who are often realize it is not prudent to intervene- not the least because the police will have trouble differentiating them from the shooter. Several people at the university in Oregon were armed and had the presence of mind not to draw their weapons and rush in when it was likely that the most they could accomplish would be to increase the confusion.

So what should you do?

The first thing is take cover (or concealment at least.) Try to locate the direction of the threat. If you can establish that look for a way out. If you find one get out and take as many others with you as you can. It’s not going to get a movie made about you, but it’s probably the most productive thing that you can do. If you are armed you might deploy your weapon while you do this- strictly to cover the retreat. Keep the weapon inconspicuous though; it would suck to get shot by the police while you are helping others to escape. As soon as you are clear put the weapon away- same reason.

This is not exactly a comprehensive guide, I know; these situations are highly variable and individual. There’s no telling when or where it’s going to happen, or wether you’ll be in a position to do anything about it, escape or whatever. The thing is to be mentally prepared, have a realistic assessment of your own abilities and if at all possible leave the shooter to the professionals.

I’m not going to tell you not to carry a gun, or not to use it. That’s an individual choice, and we do have a responsibility to our fellow citizens; the chief of which is not to make things worse. As an armed citizen your weapon is only one of the tools at your disposal, and it’s a lot less important than good sense and a plan.

‘Break-in Period-‘ WTF?

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I’ve had a lot of dealings with the venerable 1911A1 and it’s variants. These were still the standard issue handgun when I was in the service. When I got out I worked for a time at Detonics. This company made some damn expensive guns in the 1980s; you’d pay $1100 for a new, in the box Scoremaster. But what you got for your money was an out-of-the-box accurate, dead-reliable high quality hand-fitted pistol.

They knew the gun was reliable when it left the factory because they fired three magazines of mixed ammunition through each and every gun before it went our the door. By mixed I mean several types of ball, hollow points, target wadcutters and semi-wadcutters. If the gun didn’t function flawlessly it went back and got reworked until it did. That was what you were paying a premium for after all- a well-made gun that you can count on.

Fast forward to 2010 SHOT Show. I was at the booth of a ‘premium’ 1911 manufacturer and listened as he explained that the $2200 dollar gun he was showing should be fired 500-1000 times to break it in before you should count on it. This struck me as a bit odd since I had just left a maker of inexpensive 1911s where the owner of the company said, “We recommend a 500 round break-in period, but honestly the gun should work out of the box. Just give it a good cleaning, lube it up and you ought to be ready to go.” This company’s products ran 20-25% of the cost of the ‘Premium’ gun.

He was very candid and went on to explain that while they did their best sometimes minor things slipped through- a rough surface, a small burs etc. that would work themselves out over the course of a few hundred rounds, so they liked people to ‘shoot them in’ before returning the product under warranty. Of everyone that I know that has purchased one of these guns it has, in fact, been reliable right out of the box.

So when the representative of the ‘Premium’ gun talked about a 500-1000 round ‘break-in’ period before the gun would be reliable I was dubious. This ‘break-in’ period means that if you don’t reload you are going to pay as much as $400 in addition to that $2200 price tag before you should ‘count on’ your gun being reliable. I know a number of people that have bought these guns and had numerous malfunctions in the first 500 rounds. To the companies credit most of these guns eventually settled down and became reliable.

The rational for this ‘break-in’ period was that these guns were manufactured to tighter tolerances and needed to ‘wear in.’ I’m well-known for speaking my mind- in other words without thinking- so I said, “So basically you charge a premium price, then draft your customers to finish the pistol for you. That sounds like a pretty good deal for you guys.”

The rep was speechless- in fact he gaped at me like a fish out of water. A couple of people chuckled and several looked uneasy. After thirty seconds of the fish-gape I moved on. So did several other people, mostly with thoughtful looks on their faces. I do not think I would have been welcome at that booth thereafter…

On another occasion a buddy of mine was proudly displaying his new premium 1911 and said, “It’s not really reliable yet; I’ve only put about 400 rounds through it.”

I said, “You know, if you bought a Glock for $450 dollars and it didn’t work right out of the box you’d throw a fit.”

He  looked gobsmacked, then a thoughtful.

Here’s the thing about break-in periods for premium 1911s- it’s a scam. The manufacturers of these guns have convinced us that this is normal. It’s not. The guns aren’t premium- they are just tight, and the manufacturers have convinced us that we should feel privileged to do their work for them. On a $400 1911 I can live with that. On a gun that is supposed be the top-of-the-line, the best of the best? It’s bullshit, and we need to call them on it. Because they will keep right on conning us as long as we let them get away with it.

Glasers and Other Pre-Fragmented Projectiles

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There is a lot of talk out there about High Velocity Pre-Fragmented Projectiles such as Glaser Safety Slugs and Mag Safe ammunition.  Some tout them as ‘the ultimate self-defense round’ and others decry them as useless and a rip-off.  In fact they are neither- they are a special-purpose limited application round and within their limits they work quite well.

What is a Pre-Fragmented Projectile?

The most common form is a bullet-shaped copper shell filled with shot.  The size and quantity of shot varies with the design.  The end of a Glaser Safety Slug is capped with a polymer sphere.  Mag safe has no cap, but rather fills the space around the shot with an epoxy resin.  Since these bullets are lighter than conventional bullets they are fired at higher velocity than conventional bullets- usually 150-200+% of typical bullet velocities for a given caliber.  This gives them a proportionately higher kinetic energy load as well. Another advantage is that they tend to have relatively light recoil, allowing faster follow-up shots.

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They are called Safety Slugs for several reasons;  first because they are designed so that if they hit a hard, angled surface instead of ricocheting they will break up into small pieces that are unlikely to have lethal effect at any significant distance from the impact.   They are also likely to break up in a standard interior wall, especially if they strike at an angle, emerging if at all as a diffuse spray of small projectiles at low velocity that are unlikely to inflict a lethal wound.  They will not over-penetrate a human body and possibly go on to strike an innocent bystander. Such rounds were originally designed for Air Marshals as it was felt that they would be less likely to over-penetrate the fuselage of an aircraft in flight and cause explosive decompression.

There have been a number of theoretical studies; many of these are well thought out and theoretically sound if you accept their basic assumptions. The primary assumption is that it is necessary to penetrate at least twelve inches to result in a ‘stop,’ as a cross-body shot might have to penetrate that far to disrupt vital organs and structures in the body. Unfortunately these studies don’t take into account documented cases of actual shootings in real life with high-velocity pre-fragmented projectiles. In these cases they have most often worked extremely well- overall at least as well as conventional hollow-point ammunition in their given caliber.

There are stories of these bullets failing to penetrate heavy clothing, leather jackets etc.  To the best of my knowledge not one of these stories has been documented by any reliable authority.

One problem is that an intervening limb might take the hit, causing the bullet to break up before hitting the torso and failing to result in a ‘stop.’ That an intervening limb might take the hit from the bullet is well-taken. On the other hand a hit in the hand or arm with a service caliber Glaser will virtually insure that that limb is out of action- and we shouldn’t ignore cases where an intervening limb has deflected a conventional bullet.

Marshall Evans study of actual coroner’s reports of real-life, documented shootings did include two examples of 9x19mm Glasers failing to stop a suspect with a single hit. One was a cross-body shot that struck the back by the shoulder blade at an acute angle and while it did massive surface damage did not stop the perp- though it is doubtful that a comparable hit with any conventional bullet would have done better under the circumstances. In the second case the Glaser round passed through the upper arm and started to break up before hitting the suspect’s chest. A conventional round under these circumstances would likely have been more effective.  In a few cases locally of use by police officers in the late 1980s and early 1990s they performed at least as well as conventional ammunition.

There have been a number of shootings with 9x19mm Glasers since that have been documented- on the average Glasers have performed about as well as a good conventional hollow-point. However that average doesn’t tell the entire tale. When broken down into full-frontal hits and oblique hits the statistics change noticeably. In cases of oblique hits effectiveness drops due to the low penetration of these rounds. In cases of full-frontal hits 9x19mm Glasers have been extremely effective at stopping with torso hits- but it should be noted that almost none of these were single-shot shootings. It is only on oblique (crossing the body) hits that effectiveness drops lower than good hollow-points-  Since most home defense shootings involve full-frontal shots this is less of an issue for home defense uses than it is for law enforcement.

Then there is the argument that HVPFPs have very poor penetration against car windows, doors etc.  This is hardly surprising- they are designed to not penetrate these types of obstacles. Many will argue that this makes these rounds unsuitable for general law-enforcement use.  I happen to agree with this however it has no bearing on most civilian in-home self-defense situations.

Some also argue that an overzealous prosecutor can claim that you were using ‘special killer bullets.’ If you get hung up on this one some one should shoot your lawyer; the ‘killer ammo’ charge in the case of Glasers and their ilk is laughably easy to shoot down in court. You weren’t carrying special ‘man-killer’ ammo. Far from it- you were carrying ‘Safety Slugs’ that wouldn’t over-penetrate or ricochet and hurt innocent bystanders; you were in fact concerned enough about this possibility that you were willing to spend as much as $3 a shot to insure against accidental injury of innocents. It helps of course if this is actually true and reflects your real reasons for using this ammo.

Which brings up another issue: these rounds are expensive, often costing $3 a round or even more. I lived in an apartment years back and at a gun show a fellow questioned spending $3 a shot for defensive ammo. I asked him if he didn’t think maybe my neighbor’s 3 year old daughter’s life wasn’t worth a bit more than $3 a shot? Currently I live in a house with a wife, six dogs and a cat. It would really suck if a round from my gun penetrated a wall and injured or killed one of them, which even very good hollow-points frequently can.

HVPFPs aren’t perfect, nor are they useless. They are special application ammo that I believe is not suited to use as a police duty round. They are suited to special circumstances and civilian use in densely populated areas, apartment buildings or for homes where other family members are usually present. In these cases it would be wise to balance the situational effectiveness of these rounds against the likelihood of causing unintended injury to bystanders.

One thing that I feel is important to note- shot placement is critical with any defensive ammunition. You can have the best defensive ammunition on the planet and it’s not good if it doesn’t hit something important. Practice is paramount, and with Glasers or Mag-Safe the cost of that is prohibitive. Your best bet is to find a less expensive ammunition that hits the same point of impact and practice with that.

Another thing to consider- these rounds work because of their velocity, and since the bullet is light weight they lose velocity relatively quickly; they are a fairly short-range proposition. Since most defensive shootings- especially in the home- take place at very short range this is unlikely to be an issue.

For home defense in almost any good quality service-caliber revolver I would not hesitate to recommend them- with the proviso that you fire a cylinder full to insure that there are no issues. In a semi-automatic pistol I wouldn’t unless you are completely satisfied that they will function correctly- how you establish that is your judgement. My wife’s Kahr E9 cycled a magazine of Magsafes flawlessly. Normally I would still be a bit dubious but since the gun has never experienced any feeding problems with any type or profile of 9mm bullet I’m not concerned.

For general law-enforcement and self-defense outside of the home HVPFPs are often not the best choice due to their lack of penetration of obstacles.  Law enforcement officers in particular may encounter situations where they need to fire on a vehicle or through obstacles and to a lesser degree legally-armed civilians may face these same situations.  In these cases modern, good-quality hollow-point ammunition remains the choice of professionals.