Upon first consideration, it would seem to be a decent idea to use handloads for self-defense. A person experienced in handloading could choose the right combination to create tailored ammunition which would be far more effective in a real-world situation than the standard ammunition available for purchase in a store. However, there is a risk. In the event that you use a handload in self-defense, you may face unanticipated consequences from a legal system that can sometimes be anti-gun and turn the table on someone acting within his legal rights.
A Night on the Town
Consider this example. You are out with your wife for a night on the town. During the evening you are approached by a person whom you perceive to be a threat. Your
perception becomes reality when the man moves towards you and your wife aggressively, appearing to attack. There is a glint of light off of what appears to be a deadly weapon in the attacker’s hand. You are lawfully carrying a concealed handgun for protection. The handgun is loaded with handloads that you have created. You use the handgun to defend yourself and your wife and shoot the aggressor killing him on the spot.
You think you have acted justifiably and lawfully. You are allowed to carry a firearm for protection. You are allowed to act in self-defense. You are thankful that you were able to defend yourself and your wife. Unfortunately, The police and the prosecutor see it differently.
When the police arrive you are treated like a criminal. They put you on the ground, slap handcuffs on your wrists, put you in the back seat of a patrol car and take you to jail. You are charged with homicide and are forced to stand trial. Your life is on the line. Will the jury decide that you acted in self-defense and send you home to your family, or will you be sentenced to serve several years of your life in prison?
Handloads as an Indicator of Pre-meditation/Malice
At the trial, the prosecutor’s argument goes something like this, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, he intended to kill his attacker. In fact, he intended to kill anyone he shot with those bullets he designed, bullets he manufactured with the specific intent to kill. He established premeditation and malice when he loaded his handgun with those customized killer bullets, hollow-point bullets that were designed to rend and tear brutal wounds and cause horrible pain and suffering and ensure the agonizing death of his victim. There can be no other reason to manufacture customized, deadly ammunition other than the intent to kill another human being. He was carrying them just waiting and hoping for an opportunity to use them.”
In the end, your good idea of using handloads for self-defense may have just helped prove that you intended to commit murder.
An Additional Reason Handloads Can Cause Problems
The use of handloads can cause other serious legal problems for your defense team if you end up in court. Defensive shootings often happen at close range. This causes gunshot residue (GSR) from your muzzle to be deposited on your attacker’s body or clothing. The GSR can become a critical piece of evidence at trial if a prosecutor insists the attacker was too far away from you to endanger you when you took the shot.
Again, you can imagine the prosecutor’s argument, “We did scientific testing on the gunshot residue deposited on the victims clothing. The scientific evidence proves beyond any doubt that the victim was far enough away that deadly force was not necessary for the situation. Since deadly force was not reasonably necessary, there was no reason to pull out a gun and blast away with those customized killer bullets.”
Determining distance using GSR evidence is supposed to be done by firing ammunition identical to what was in your gun at the time of the shooting. If the ammunition is not standard, it will be difficult to obtain accurate results. Sometimes, the testing will be done using a factory load which can give a false indication of the distance involved. This can lead to an argument by prosecutors that the attacker was actually much farther away at the time of the shooting than he actually was.
Another problem that can arise is the potential conflict with allowing you to testify as a witness on the ammunition that was used. On the one hand, you are the expert. You know exactly how the handloads were made. You made them. You also know what your intent was in manufacturing the handloads. The problem is that putting you on the witness stand is not always a simple thing.
Normally, a person charged with a crime has the absolute right not to testify. If he chooses not to testify, then the jury deciding the case is instructed by the judge that they cannot consider the fact that the defendant did not testify in determining whether the prosecutor has proven his case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if a person charged with a crime chooses to testify, then he is treated just like any other witness and is subject to cross-examination by the prosecutor.
In some cases, it is in your best interests not to testify. It becomes difficult to balance that interest when you are the only person who knows about the handload that was used during the shooting. If you choose to testify about the handload, you will be subject to cross-examination which may prove disastrous for your defense. Even if you are innocent, a skillful prosecutor can twist your words.
Let’s say you just testified about how you created the handloads and that you created them with the intent to be effective in stopping an attacker without killing him. You think you have helped your case, but one can imagine the following cross-examination by the prosecutor:
Question: So, you admit that you were carrying a gun believing that you might have to shoot someone.
Answer: Yes, shoot someone in self-defense.
Question: You admit that you created those bullets.
Question: You admit that you shot the gun.
Question: You admit that the shot you fired killed the victim.
Answer: Yes, but he was an attacker, not a victim.
You can appreciate how taking the witness stand in this situation can be a real double-edged sword. Sure, you had a chance to tell the jury your version of what happened, but you also gave the prosecutor the chance to have you admit in front of the jury that you shot and killed the alleged victim. Even if you try and clarify what happened and tell the jury nothing but the truth, your words can be twisted to support the prosecutor’s “killer bullet” theory of the case.
The Wise Alternative to Handloads
Instead of using handloads for self-defense, it is far wiser to use the same ammunition used by law enforcement in your community. One can appreciate how that would allow a defense attorney to address the argument presented earlier in this article.
The defense attorney could easily counter the prosecutor’s argument by explaining you chose the same type of ammunition as the police use and for the same reasons. For example, with hollow points, the bullets are less likely to over penetrate the body of a dangerous attacker and strike down unseen innocent bystanders. They are also less likely to ricochet and create additional unintended victims. In addition, since hollow point ammunition has increased stopping power, the attacker would have to be shot fewer times in order to neutralize the attack. Since he will be shot fewer times, he will be more likely to live.
The inference is changed from one of a person using customized ammunition to kill with premeditation to one of a person using the same ammunition as the police in order to minimize collateral damage and possibly avoid the death of the attacker.
Also, using factory ammunition means that you can subpoena an engineer from the factory that can testify as to the design, testing, performance, and advertised use of the ammunition product without having to testify yourself.
The Times in Which We Live
It is a challenging time to be a gun owner in America. Those who are anti-gun are constantly working to change the laws and limit our Second Amendments right to possess firearms and protect ourselves and our families. It is unfortunate that we should have to think about scenarios like those presented in this article. We should be able to use handloads for concealed carry, but the times in which we live make it a wiser choice to use standardized factory loads that are similar to those used by law enforcement officers in our communities.
All the ‘what ifs’, and there’s never been a case for it. Way too much internet Fudd lore. Why would I not want the most accurate/effective ammo I can carry for my self defense pistol? Articles like this help the ignorant perpetuate the bullshit
I’ve seen these ideas about handloads written about for 30+ years; yet I’ve never heard of anyone being charged with murder for using handloads in a self-defense shooting, nor does this article provide any evidence that this has ever actually happened.
Maybe this type of prosecution happens every day, and the author of this article was too lazy or poorly researched to mention any of it. Or perhaps, the premise of this article is bullshit.
well,here’s a reason to use well crafted handloads for defense.
My wife is a petite lady who has a fetish for snubs in 38spl.she doesn’t like her lcr or colt agent with full tilt 110+p let alone 158 lswchp+p the old standard man’s topper 38.
So I load her 95gr jhps at 1000fps.
These she can shoot all day and I wouldn’t want to stop one with my body,lol
I only reload from readily available published data with min. and max loading information. These are tested and proven to be safe to not only shoot but also recommended by powder and bullet manufactures, people who are much more knowledgeable regarding ammo than a lawyer. It is not like we are mad scientist developing super bullets.
I bought my reloading equipment in order to produce safe and sane ammo. You seem to believe it is a license to build home made rockets. No thanks; I will stick to loads that function and don’t harm my firearms or my body.
Too sad when self defense is twisted and used synonymously with murder… no matter if ya used a gun or knife or club…. scared to imagine how they’d relate the gun caliber used … .22lr all the way up to .50SW
And show us one case where this has come up just like the don’t put anything on your gun like (smile wait for flash) I have heard that to but have not found anything used against anyone
BULLSHIT begets Bullshit. In your play here the ammo had nothing to do with it. Were you justified to shoot is the question. I could use a steam roller (a little over kill) and if justified stay free. If not, go to jail. The ammo or weapon have nothing to do with justification. Yes the prosecutor will try and comingle both. That’s his job, don’t help jim.
So very well put!!… thanks… Hornaday, Federal, Speer, etc sell the same bullets for reloaders as they use in their factory ammo
This article is the reason lawyers get away with what they do – you are giving them “Ammunition”… They will use THIS article against a self-defense shooter. On this writers logic, be darned sure you don’t use “Critical Defense” factory ammo – that would be the same problem as the invented and twisted logic regurgitated here that it would prove “intent”. Load/use the best ammo for your situation and rely on the Maxim that it is better to be tried by twelve than carried by 6…
In one particular caliber I don’t like the limited factory loads available. One is good, but downloaded a lot. So I use that brand new brass, primers , their powder and bullets (hollowpoints), but a much higher charge. Even have a factory box floating around….
Others, i have actually pulled their loads and reloaded them “warmer”…Beats me, Mr DA, bought them at a gunshow…
Exactly! I bought them at a gun show. Period. No, I don’t remember when, I buy ammunition every month at the gun show because one of my hobbies is shooting all manner of firearms. No, I don’t have the box they came in, ammunition lasts longer if well cared for so I store it loose in ammo cans and discard the cardboard boxes. It could be from any manufacturer, large or small. I suspect that some of the ammo at the gun shows might be reloads, but it is difficult to tell just by looking at it. For somebody who shoots a lot the price is often of prime consideration. I have always understood the purpose of self-defense is to stop the threat and that is what I prepare for…..
What’s the difference if the prosecutor ask if you reloaded that round to kill someone of if you bought that round to kill someone?
What the difference between a hot reload and a hotter Cor-Bon factory round in a courtroom?
This article makes no sense to me. Is the writer trying to sell factory ammo or discourage reloading?
I think the writer is telling us that Lawyers are scum and will do just about anything to win including lie and cheat, the takeaway is don’t do unnecessary things that might require you to get on the stand and open your mouth, you have the right to remain silent and should do so and pray your attorney is smarter than the prosecutor.
Save your nickel-plated, headstamped brass. Re-prime with the same color primer.
Use a similar bullet type and weight, and snot that dog up with AA7, Blue Dot, or Power Pistol.
It can be difficult to find defensive carry ammo when everybody is running around with their hair on fire.
Don’t carry weak.You bought that loader for a reason.
how about one single case where the person was convicted because of handloads. One? The facts are that when you shoot someone in self defense, police or otherwise my understanding is that you are immediately held for 2nd degree murder and once its investigated you are either released or held. This can take a short time—hours—or weeks/months. I have asked several criminal attorneys and state/county prosecutors the same. Not once did they say “after the shooting we first determine if you were using handloads”—in fact- that never ever was mentioned by anyone. Maybe in a questionable shooting it might- but in a true self defense situation it makes no difference. What if you shoot someone with handloaded wadcutters or lead cast bullets you made from wheel weights or bought? what if you shoot someone with handloaded round nose copper jackets? It seems to me whether handloads or store bought- if this article had any truth to it- it wouldn’t matter if they were store bought or hanIdloads. The prosecutor could still argue “he went out shopping for killer bullets”—-
I have read this same nonsense for many years. Just give us a case or 2 where a legally justified shooting—-the defendant (victim/shooter) was charged and convicted for no other reason than he/she was using “handloads”.
Is there nothing more relevant than this old re-hashed article? I read it the first time in about 1980 in a gun magazine—-now we are subjected to it again as if its “groundbreaking”.
How about a case?
Fictional court room BS, but it could happen.
Do you reload? YES, but I use store bought ammunition for my carry. Can you provide proof? YES, here’s my receipt. Can you prove you didn’t mix up your bullets? YES, I keep only factory ammo in this magazine. Do you have more than one magazine for your weapon? YES. Have you ever used your homemade ammunition in that dedicated magazine? POSSIBLY. Is it also possible you may have mixed different types of ammo together? NO. Can you prove you didn’t? NO. So, is it plausible that you did kill the victim with a bullet that you didn’t intend to use?
Authors seem to like writing articles claiming this but somehow never cite a single case showing it anything but theory on their parts.
That includes the fellow who claims to have as an expert witness saved it must be about a thousand people now but is always shy about including a single detail enabling verification on Lexis/Nexis or anywhere that the case is real.
I am not by any means saying the above author so represents or in any way misrepresents.
But this claimed argument has been around for many years and never backed up by a single actual case.
I have talked to attorneys about that idea. Their was no case study to back it up. In fact, in the instances where this was tried the defense attorney reminded the court that up until 130 years ago, every load was a hand load. Also the projectile is usually the same as in factory loaded rounds No pistol load is identical, even from the factory.
But my hand loads are hollow point for the same reason the police carry hollow points. If the author had cited an actual trial transcript his point would be more believable. I’ll take my chances with a prosecutor and jury when killing an armed attacker with my legal weapon.
A bit overblown as a concern, IMHO. The fact that a gun is drawn altogether …and is then pointed at someone…..is because you are trying to neutralize a threat. Period. The argument then falls on deaf ears if this more fundamental fact is first established. You draw / aim / shoot / to STOP a threat. How can you be faulted for not using the BEST “answer” to this thrwat?….and there are additional points….1.) someone has to prove YOUR handloads are MORE lethal than factory ammo….and 2.) thecounter argument can also be presented that handloads are purely an ECONOMIC issue….they end up cheaper. If the agument that handloads are more deadly and therefore a legal problem for the defendent…..what about the similar case of using a larger caliber when ” a smaller caliber could have been used”. Will someone using a 45 ACP or 357 mag be accused of using too much force too?, when he should have been using factory 9mm?…..like you say will happen using handloads? Taking all this in…..my opinion is that theis whole thing falls on its face.
Somebody’s never heard of a bullet puller.
Pull several bullets from the same batch and average.
Or fire several over a chronograph to determine velocity is the same.
My friend is a retired policeman who worked in ballistics and forensics for 15 yrs and echoes this point exactly. He’s been at many trials and he always recommends using factory ammo. He says lawyers can be viscous!
“vicious”? So can pit bulls and dobermans- or they can be docile and very good pets. So who cares. “lawyers can be vicious”. I am not afraid of the lawyer. I am more concerned about getting a fair trial. So lets have a case? Surely your cop friend who has “been to many trials”—can think of 1 or 5 or more.
I never believed much in “fake news”–but it obviously exists in many forms. this article and some of the comments.
Uggghhh… This tired old alarmist 🚨 AGAIN ? Where is the editor? Can we please get some new material? Neeeexxxxxtttt,please!
To bad just about any hand load is a factory load so it kind makes all the time it took to write all the above a waist of time .
waste not waist unless you are talking about girth
That can SOMETIMES be anti gun!!?? I stopped reading right there. This person lives in fantasyland.
Nuts! Is all I can say to this article. Does anyone have any cases where the use of a handload was ever brought up at TRIAL and was a deciding factor in the case? Especially the contention that the handloads were uber killers.
The only part of the article even remotely accurate is on gun shot residue. That can be used to determine if the shot was more or less than 3 feet away from the target.
I sat once on a triple homicide jury and was amazed what the forensics experts couldn’t tell you.
Bad faith points argued in these ill informed articles just carry on old wives’ tales to the next generation. What’s next? A pistol shot sends people flying through windows like the movies?
In my career in Law Enforcement both agencies I worked for one as a firearms instructor that subject was always approached tongue in cheek. We could only carry issued ammo on duty but off duty we were always reminded that if we were sued in a wrongful death suit the home made killer ammo we conjured up would almost guarantee a victory to the plaintiff. A good lawyer would make you look like some mad chemist working on some sinister round for mass destruction. Remember the people on the jury don’t know what is entailed in reloading. They will ask you about reloading manuals and make them sound like some witches spell book. I buy what the local LEO’s carry for my EDC forearms except my 1911 which has no similar round being used but other agencies use it in other areas.
I am looking into reloading 9mm defensive rounds because ammunition cannot be purchased at this time in California. I found this article an art in fearmongering. If I load 9mm ammunition to the same specs as a defensive factory round, which are hollow points by the way, then MY lawyer would eat the prosecutor for dinner. All that said, I cannot find anywhere case precedent where a person was found guilty because they used “killer bullets”. If I’m wrong, please correct me, preferably with verifiable facts.
Yet no way for you to prove that it was the same amount of powder that the factory round has.
I was in a grand jury in Georgia when this was brought up. The whole case seemed convoluted to some degree, but it was still brought up by the DA’s office. Most of the people had no clue what they were actually being told. A couple of us were hunters and target shooters and were able to question the use of home loads and what the loads were. Home Loads do not mean super-duper-man-killers. But one can only wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t been there. So I know this has been brought up, I don’t know if its been used at trial.
I personally carry what is considered ‘hyper’ ammo. Fragmentable high velocity loads designed to break up on impact. They look devastating in gel. Mostly because of over penetration prevention. I have been warned about that as well. The theory of asking the local LEO what they carry hasn’t ever worked for me, because I can’t go to the gun shop and purchase a box of “whatever the department issued’.
Yep, I also believe there will be less trouble with a criminal case than there could be in a civil case.
i find it preposterous to believe that a competent attorney could not defend against the insane notion that a defender is somehow guilty of a wrongdoing by using handloads. there is absolutely zero legal precedent or justification for fearing it. if a defender is justified in using DEADLY force then it does not matter what bullet or load he uses, or weapon period. the ideas behind using handloads are many: cost, consistency, accuracy, performance, reliability, as well as being a hobby. none of which are grounds for legal action.
yes i want each bullet to do the most damage it possibly can. when a defender shoots an attacker, death is not the primary objective. it is to stop him. death is a very common side effect of being shot. any bullet can cause immediate death if it hits the cns. most hits do not so pain, fear, lost desire to continue, and body shutdown due to bloodloss are the reasons that most situations end. better bullets at optimal velocities hasten all of those, especially body shutdown.
no intelligent person can determine that you can kill a person with one bullet but not another. just as it is ridiculous to say that anything over x calliber shows criminal intent to kill an attacker. defense does not prohibit shooting to kill, or require wounding to be the objective. only that it ends once the threat is over, often a judgment call. if i am legally able to shoot someone in defense i can choose to kill. period.
There is a slight flaw in your theory. First is that you will get a jury of your peers. The truth is you get a jury of people who have driver’s licenses. How many will be pro-gun? Unlikely over 50%, probably less. Now consider the people you know who are anti-gun. They already believe too much propaganda being pumped out by the Lame Stream Media and anti-gun groups, so when a District Attorney, a man who is there to defend the town from drug dealers, thieves, murderers and the like, dumps this information on them. What will they believe? After all, if grandma spent extra time to bake a pie to make folks happy and the occasion special, why wouldn’t a pro-gunner, someone who wants to be Rambo, a person with vigilante intent, take time to load up special bullets designed to maim or kill someone. I have heard this discussion on a grand jury before. It ain’t pretty.
John Thomas, you forgot to add as a reference which criminal trial that you have experience in this actually occurred to lend some sort of credibility to your claim that the construction of a new bullet using recycled range scrap os a basis for premeditation. Its not like anyone with a ccw license has a time machine to lnow when the perp will strike to lay on wait for him to show up (instead of notifying the police). THAT would be premeditation, wouldnt it and not the use of a particular mix of PB?
We should all keep in mind being a gun writer is a tough job from the standpoint of coming up with new content which unfortunately is the reason a lot of urban myths come from. It’s much easier to test say the new ammo being touted yourself than the old “using handloads will get you thrown in jail even in a righteous shooting”. If you are justified in using deadly force then the means you are forced to use doesn’t matter, think what “deadly force” means.
I can think of a huge reason to use handloads for concealed carry/self defense. Just google “ammunition recalls” and look at how many there have been over the past decade or so. If I am going to trust my life to a cartridge, I want to know that it has powder in it… and has the correct powder charge of the correct powder type. No better way to know that than to have crafted it with my own hands. Besides, if the ammo does fail, I’d rather be able to blame myself…rather than some factory worker, or QC inspector in some far off locale.
I have yet found a presidence where this argument has been used against anyone who used a weapon lawfully or otherwise.
My answer to the “specifically designed to kill” question. “Why those bullets?” “Umm, they were on sale, and cheaper than the alternative ones, and the overall cost of my hand loads are half that of purchased ammunition. Which means, I defended myself as cheaply as possible.” “Also, my hand loads were not designed to kill my attacker, they were designed to protect myself and my family from grievous harm or death.” I read something in one of the gun mags ( Mas Ayoob, possibly) that said this was urban legend at this point anyway as any ammo, bought or hand loaded are both designed to kill.
Massage A Boob started this Urban Legend decades ago. Prime takeaway for me if involved in a shooting with a crazed homeless drug addict is I need to hop on to the nearest public transportation and come back for my POV in a couple days or if it’s in my home where a couple hapless meth addicts get gunned down that they should be be buried under my compost pile vs calling the PoPo…..no one likes a snitch
Mas Ayoob, a legend! in his own mind,lol
and no one has ever been convicted, NO presidence where this argument has been used against anyone who used a weapon lawfully or otherwise.
I’ve been reading opinionated articles on this topic for years and I’ve always wondered if there was any truth to it. Back in the seventies I carried a Bull Dog .44 Special and hand loaded my rounds as hot as I could safely load them using a Hornady 210gr or 200gr jacketed hollow point.
Worrying about over penetration even back then I would take a hammer and a knife and strike a deep “+” across the top all the way down to the jacket. My thinking was the projectile would fragment into four pieces on impact lessening the possibility of over-penetration but also creating a more devastating would canal. I’ve heard of people carrying rounds with primers seated into the hollow-point like the ones that were sold in the seventies.
In my mind, heaven forbid if you ever have to shoot someone the end result would be to stop that threat with whatever it takes, not to wound or deter the threat. That means total devastation. But I can see both sides of the argument for and against using hand-loads in a CCW firearm, especially if having to stand before a jury that doesn’t believe in my 2nd amendment rights. The last thing I want is to give an over-zealous prosecutor a reason to come after me because that person believes using hand-loads would be considered premeditation to a death.
My CCW weapon of choice now is a G29 10mm. And I don’t carry the FBI ‘lite” loads, only factory loads replicating the original 10mm full power loads. Could a prosecutor argue that is overkill since I elect not to carry one of the popular .380 or 9mm’s, even though I own a G43? Wonder if someone believed in carrying a snubnose S&W model 29 with a hot .44 mag round?
At what point does common sense factor in to this equation?
Or worse, the handloads fail. I bought a S&W Model 36 Chief’s Special from a friend and he gave me 50 rounds of .38 special which he hand loaded. After the first 1 or 2 rounds the weapon was useless. He forgot about bullet creep and didn’t crimp the rounds adequately. Glad I use tested ammunition.
Logical deduction says if you don’t use the same firearm as the local or county popo, then your intention to do deadly force exceeds self defense. After all different firearms such as a 10mm or 44mag IS different!
Hmmm, as a current police officer with 26 years on, I’d say this article is extremely alarmist and far fetched. If you are in a situation where you are entitled to use deadly force, that deadly force can take any form available to you, whether it’s your bare hands, a knife, a sword, or your own handloads.
-as long as you are legally carrying the weapon used. Of the very few ways I could think of using your own handloads might run you into some legal problems would be if your handload over penetrated the attacker and struck an innocent person in the line of fire.
And furthermore, I do agree that in civil court handloads might come up, but in most states, a convicted suspect cannot civilly sue the victim. In addition, I have NEVER even heard of a criminal case where they tested the cartridges to see if they were hand loaded. That information in a criminal trial is irrelevant.
When the Second amendment was created, every firearm on the planet was loaded by hand. The ability to do that has not changed in 241 years since the constitution was written. The ability to purchase loaded ammunition is a luxury that in and of itself does not indicate guilt or innocence. What the court is supposed to decide is if their is evidence supporting the use of deadly force. Any lawyer worth his salt can make that case without having to have the defendant testify in court. The objective of using a firearm to protect yourself is to stop the attack, while using the least amount of bullets possible. Your defense attorneys have to be smarter than the prosecution and that isn’t hard.
Been in law enforcement for over 20 years. I think this article would have been spot on IF it were speaking of specific rounds that can be hand loaded that have these unreal kill potential, like the RIP rounds. As a reloader of 35 years, all my loads mimic factory fmj and HP loads for weight and velocity. My hand loaded 9mm 115 HP is rated at 1150fps.
I think if one was making these highly customized loads that have barbs, spikes, wires that connect on two ends, and other non conventional items, then there may be a question or concern about the ammo used. The whole point of shooting someone (or animal) is to make the attacker stop. If they die then that was beyond my intent. But that is on the attacker as he accepted the consequences of his actions the minute a felonious assault was committed. I’ve never heard of someone being charged after a shooting with reloads. At least, not yet.
Pretty much on, here. But basically, the criminals need to understand that being killed or injured while violating the law and placing innocents in a harmful situation, is an occupational hazard. That’s a point that should be made in any court proceedings.
If your handloads truly mimic factory loads, you will make it harder for prosecutor to unfairly exploit your choice to use reloads. But if they are the same, why take on the added risk? You carry a firearm to protect yourself and your family in the one in a million chance you will have to use it. Shouldn’t you be fully prepared for the one in a hundred chance you’ll have to deal with an unscrupulous prosecutor?
Why would you believe this lie as the author does not back up the claim and wont be able to say which case, State of xx vs Paul Kersey, this actually happened?
I agree with the criminal litigation aspects of this discussion, but everyone seems to ignore the civil litigation trial aspects where the standard of proof is much lower. This is where the perp and his lawyer will potentially own you. Literally and financially. Good luck with those handloads in that inevitable trial. BTW, I handload as well. My homeowners insurance company told me that they will represent me in the civil trial ( because it’s their money that is at stake), but the criminal trial is on my dime. Here’s an idea I use: carry 2 wallets when you are out and about. My giveaway wallet has phoney credit cards and plastic with some cash in it that I would hand over if confronted. If they take it and run, fine, if they open it and get confused, Their hands and attention is on that, and I can draw if it is going south. It also shields my .380 from printing in my back pocket. Will it work? I hope I never have to find out. The truth is, it WILL cost you 6 figures to defend your life. Accept that reality and move on.
2 wallets, that’s a good idea
It is actually fun to build a fake wallet like this. I watch for credit card offers, calling cards, grocery store discount cards, rewards cards, anything that appears legit and adds plastic to the wallet, but DOESN’T contain my name or any useful info about me. The cash is a big part of making the con work. They need to see cash if they open it. It is also nice to have a little spare cash on hand if you run short. I replace it later.Remember, these jaeckels are vicious, but not too smart. The $20.00 in cash is a cheap price to pay to avoid having to kill someone. And it may play well in court to demonstrate your willingness to attempt to defuse the situation and not have to resort to deadly force. It shows you were willing to comply and let them run away. If they don’t, that’s on them at that point. Just stay alert and watch their reaction. If they catch on, it could get ugly quick. Take advantage of their momentary confusion and uncertainty as to what is going on.
A competent (aka corrupt, 2A hating) DA/Prosecutor would make sure your 2-wallet idea also showed that you “knowingly built a decoy to keep the ‘victim’ distracted and busy just long enough for you to whip out your assault pistol and mercilessly gun down ‘momma’s good boy’ who was just coming home from church.”
On the flip-side, maybe giving away your real wallet might play better in court, especially when ‘momma’s good boy’ dies as a result of you exercising your right to self-defense by stopping the threat; hand-loads, or factory-loads become mostly irrelevant.
Here is a fairly minor little challenge to those who know our legal system and would therefore know how to search for such things best: Please search out and list any self-defense trials wherein the defendant would have been found to have acted lawfully except for the use of hand loaded ammunition. Even one clear court case decision where the jury clearly went against the self-defender because he or she used hand loaded ammo would do.
I am not trying to be combative nor am I trying to assert an opinion either way. I’d honestly simply like to know if there is ANY clear cut case histories in our often messy, diverse and convoluted U.S. legal system, wherein the use of hand loaded ammo as opposed to commercial ammo loads caused the difference between an innocent or guilty verdict in a self-defense shooting.
If you are acting lawfully, i.e., acting legitimately in self defense, then it doesn’t matter at all what is loaded into your gun. But getting to that point is the hard part. In a close case, it is possible that the prosecutor could argue that you were carrying “hot” handloads to try to create an inference that you were out spoiling for a fight so you could “legally” kill someone. Personally, I see it as a ploy that can be defused by a competent defense attorney. Take another example,, if the prosecutor tries to make an issue that you hollow point are “especially” deadly, all the defense attorney needs to do is to ask the investigating officer on the stand what his duty ammo is–and undoubtedly it will be HPs. And so on.
Following the teachings of Mr. Branca, one will only see an example of this situation if there is an appeal based on that specific issue. AFAIK there is none. What can’t be seen, measured, or recorded is the affect such information has on the minds of the jury. While the jury may be directed to ‘disregard’ based on an objection, they won’t UNHEAR what was just said. They same can be said for decorations on your weapon such as ‘smile, wait for flash’, let God sort em out, etc. Same for yard signs and car decals. It can all go the mind-set. Even gun modifications. No one knows how the jury will react; it is not a subject of appeal. So the question is why open the door for such problems if there is no need to, and take chances of the swaying of a juror…….it is scary enough as it is.
Bottom line, get a good expensive lawyer. He won’t put up with any of that crap from a DA. Carry insurance is actually a good consideration if you travel in a high risk area.
I remember a case in Massachusetts around the late 1970’s. Armed robber broke into a family’s home – owner shot him dead. Police did not prosecute him. HOWEVER – the robber’s family filed a civil suit claiming their ‘din-do-nutting’ son would be alive today if the home owner had used ‘standard ammunition’ instead of his handloads. The robber’s families lawyer made the home owner out to be a ‘mad scientist not content with the deadliness of factory bullets and concocted his own death dealing ammo in the basement’. At the time I was stationed on a ship in Portland Maine, we left port, I never heard how the civil trial ended. This is not an ‘urban legend’. I ‘assume’ the home owner was acquitted. Otherwise – there would be lots of easy to find documentation online – and my fellow gun club members, back then, would have definitely raised funds for an appeal.
In a murder case everything is relevant if a prosecutor is intent on convicting you. Whether he feels you are guilty or he’s trying to calm community fear or outrage. What you write in comment sections of on-line articles could also be brought up in court. Some of you need to be careful.
Having worked as a both a prosecutor and a defense attorney I seriously doubt using handloads is going to make a difference in the legal outcome of any shooting incident a person is involved in. I have heard the same argument made when it comes to carrying a 10mm, i.e. that the carrying that more potent weapon makes criminal charges and a conviction more likley. In the final analysis it’s the actions of the parties which are going to make the difference in a case not the gun or the loads.
Here’s my load data for my EDC pistol Walther PPS 40 s&w in case anyone wants a great defense load for anything on four or two legs.
*Disclaimer: load at own risk, I worked up to this load doing my own testing and using an upgraded recoil system. Always refer to current published load data before attempting.
-Starline brass nickel plated
-CCI #500 primers
-11.3 grains long shot powder
-135 grain Sierra hollow point
-Velocity from PPS 1470 fps and very accurate!
*Hodgdon once listed the max load for this recipe at 12 grains. It now shows 11 grains as max. This is due to poorly supported chambers on certain firearms causing case ruptures. I still load to 12 grains with my USP, P226, Steyr, and XD’s. Velocity for my USP is over 1550 fps. Short and weak my ass.
Love it. I have a few hundred of that exact same 40 cal load (except 135gr Nosler bullets). Turns water filled plastic gallon milk jugs into water vapor. About 1500 fps outta my Glock 35. But even those aren’t unique to reloaders. Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and Corbon sells hotter ammo than the bigger names like Federal, Winchester, and Remington. I actually load down from factory for my little Kahr PM40. Handy to carry but doesn’t seem very sturdy.
I run those 135 Noslers thru a 1st Gen Glock 20 on top of Blue Dot or AA7 depending on what I have the most of. Fast, flat, and full of snot. A great Oregon company, Nosler.
This is why leaving the scene and explaining yourself later if they catch up to you is a much better option than sticking around to be judged by an officers opinion and subsequent report, be subjected to the possibility of lethal force from the police, and interrupting your daily activities and possibly facing bankruptcy from being thrown in jail and treated like a criminal. Our legal system is not gun or self-defense friendly, and until perceptions change, you are putting your life and your livelihood on the line when you are forced to defend yourself. Get out of there and let them catch up to you later because you feared for your life by sticking around.
Hmmm, leaving the scene of a felony, & possibly a homicide you just committed. And that will work out better for you? Interesting advice, and my advice is to definitely NOT do that.
Don’t have to worry about that in Tennessee. The “By any means necessary” law passed years ago.
Handloads are a go here.
Ooooohhhh…. was somebody short of content with a deadline looming, so they stuck this urban legend in?
So the writer has apparently been both a prosecutor and a defense counsel for a few decades – but apparently he couldn’t even use any of his own experiences, much less anecdotal experience of other lawyers in the offices he worked in to buttress his BS?
In one instance where this came up, Mitch Vilos was one of the speakers at the event – that would be the attorney who specializes in gun cases and who writes books on gun laws in the various states. He was asked “Well, Massad Ayoob says…”, etc. He said he is asked that everywhere he speaks and has been for years; the answer is always the same: BS.
Of course, I’m old enough to remember when Massad Ayoob was pitching the Glaser Safety Slug as practically the equivalent of having a shotgun instead of a handgun, but that’s another story.
If this were true (rather than an urban legend that will not die), anything from the clothes you wear i.e. “I don’t call 911, I call 1911”, other modifications to your firearm, etc would also be used in court to show evil intent.
I carried handloaded ammunition for years. The only reason I don’t do that anymore is I simply don’t believe that my handloads can be better than the service ammunition competing ammunition companies have been engineering, testing, and developing for law enforcement. The amount of carry ammo I go through in a year is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of what I shoot in range ammo.
Give it a rest.
“Handloads as an Indicator of Pre-meditation/Malice” Huh? But buying a box of Winchester or Federal off of the store shelf and intentionally loading them in you firearm would somehow be different?
The obvious and redundant answer is ‘Yes!”
But you seem to be either dense or just another all-knowing-know-nothing, so just do your own thing.
The actual obvious and redundant answer is that there is always somebody willing to eagerly prove that urban legends take on a life of their own, and there is always one of the gullible eagerly willing to serve as an example of that.
In fact, they make it their mission to be the all-knowing-know-nothing who has eagerly adopted it as their own thing.
I agree with you. And besides, what idiot carries a gun with just enough ammo to defend with. Mine has 13+1 and it is seriously doubtful that all will be used at any given time. That leaves some for forensics. I’ve also encountered “2” squibbs with store bought Federal and Winchester ammo. Most people never encounter even 1. I managed to get 2 separated by over a year in 2 different guns of 2 different calibers. My hand loads are calibrated and I have back stocks of it just in case. Living in Texas has the advantage of low probability of running over a pink underwear liberal lawyer or judge. Unless I get close to a low IQ, huddle for safety mentality, sanctuary city which I try to avoid. KAG! 2020
Horseplop. Deadly force is deadly force, be in factory ammo, your reloads, a knife of a baseball bat.
The myth that will not die.
Yawn. And what of all the hoopla back in the day with ‘Black Talon’s’?????
Those were factory loads.
Under the ‘right’ circumstances, with the ‘right’ legal people in charge, ANYTHING could be brought to bear against you.
That’s why in such a case, it’s your ATTORNEY that is MOST important.
They’re all a bunch of bottom dwellers or Sharks, until you REALLY need one.
I really wish the folks that wrote this article would identify the location and outcome of any trial where this has happened. Personally I use factory ammo for my defense ammo, simply because of reliability issues.
I am a prosecutor and have been for most of my 30-plus-year career. Carrying any gun is proof of a decision you are willing to use deadly force. That being the case, it doesn’t matter if it’s a .22 derringer or a .40 Glock. It doesn’t matter if you load with target ammo or the latest/greatest “man stopper”. The reasonable perceptions of the person AT THE TIME determine whether the choice to use deadly force is justified or not.
Yes, carrying a weapon proves you intend to use deadly force, a great number of times the mere “presentation of the gun” stops the criminal who has more than 2 connected brain cells. Therefor a deadly confrontation was avoided. Lots of pain and misery on both sides of the barrel avoided.
I would say that the arguments this author lays out for using factory ammo could also be used against you in court. If a person explains to a jury using terms like “Hollow Point”, “Pass Thru”, Needing to shoot fewer time to stop the threat, etc., a prosecutor would reply by claiming the shooter went to such great lengths to select his/her ammunition that they MUST have intended to shoot someone, sometime. On the other hand, using COP ammo does seems like a good choice for those of us who are not ammo experts.
On the other hand, and we can play “what-ifs” all day until the cows come home,. If you use COP ammo, cannot a prosecutor make the argument that you had delusions of thinking you were a COP and even used the same ammo as they use?
In the aftermath of a shooting/self defense incident, the police will be determining if it was a case of legitimate self defense. As others responding have said, if it was a justified case of the lawful use of deadly force, the type of ammunition used is basically irrelevant. In my 22 years in law enforcement in Connecticut, I am not aware of any case where reloaded ammo was an issue.
However, I once had a criminal defense attorney tell me that if you carry a concealed weapon, DO NOT, carry one with a trigger pull modified from factory spec. That can be a problem for you. Let’s face it, in today’s world, I wouldn’t put anything past some overzealous prosecutor to try his/her best to put you in jail after a self defense shooting situation.
Well, in his MAG 40 class, Massad Ayoob also recommends using stock ammo and keeping some on hand as a reference for testing. Since he’s a nationally known use-of-force expert that has worked on cases in various states, I’ll use his advice.
This comes up sometimes on sites like concealed carry (where they want to sell you legal insurance) – usually around modifications to your carry gun. You changed your sights to Trijicons so you were pre-disposed to kill, you upgraded your trigger so you were pre-disposed to kill.
Same goes for carry ammo. I run Corbon +P in all my carry pistols. And I’ll tell you one thing – GOD forbid I am forced to drop the hammer on someone, the intent IS TO KILL. There’s no “shoot to wound” in a critical defense situation – it’s always shoot to kill. From a liability standpoint (depending on where you live) – you are BETTER OF KILLING SOMEONE in a lawful defense scenario, than WOUNDING them – and ending up questionably liable for medical bills and crippling them.
No one here, is some “Wild Bill Hickok”, that’s going to shoot the weapon out of an assailants hand, in a critical defense shooting. Same with the old “take the headshot” debate. I’ve done some extensive training, that aside, I’m going for 3 center mass if the time ever comes where I AM FORCED TO SHOOT.
“Carrying the same thing your local cops are carrying” can be a crapshoot at best. Some of my local buys wish they had a better option for their carry ammo. Anyone who doesn’t carry what they feel to be THE BEST – MOST LETHAL AMMO, risks having it NOT DO WHAT THEY NEED IT TO DO IF THE SITUATION REQUIRES IT.
The reality is – GUNS AND BULLETS KILL. Let’s not kid ourselves or the public about this simple fact.
Now – I don’t handload or reload. My friends that DO – do so to lessen their expense of range ammo, develop custom match loads for their hunting & distance shooting. I don’t think ANY OF THEM carry them for defensive loads. Even the best, most self-confident of them – still trust a FACTORY LOAD over one of their hand loads.
This article, while interesting in content – describes a solution to a problem that probably RARELY IF EVER HAPPENS. The only time you might see it, is someone carrying hollow points in NJ (where the gun laws are screwed up beyond belief anyway).
I can see – since I’m replying to MY ORIGINAL RESPONSE on this article (June 24) – that we have a LACK OF NEW CONTENT HERE.
So I guess – there’s no need to further elaborate on my original response.
But since I’m posting ANYWAYS (LOL). I don’t handload – and wouldn’t use them. Mainly an issue of TRUSTING THEM to properly go BANG! when I need them to.
My carry ammo is THE MOST LETHAL I CAN PURCHASE. Because the SOLE OBJECT OF USING DEADLY FORCE in justified self-defense, is TO CAUSE DEATH.
With the current legal climate in this country right now – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE in a court of law. As others have commented – the strategy of highlighting someone using “killer handloads” is fallacious at best, but can still be offered to an ignorant jury. Your BEST HOPE in any self-defense shooting, is a defense attorney that specializes in such cases – that can EDUCATE A JURY IN LAYMAN TERMS, how self defense rights work.
THE INTEND IN A SELF DEFENSE SHOOTING IS ALWAYS TO KILL. The justification for using deadly force comes from MINDSET, and the ability to distinguish when such force is necessary (and more important, when it is NOT) As important as knowing when to shoot – is knowing WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
In 30 years of carry – I’ve been “forced to draw” three times – in each instance, I had LEGAL JUSTIFICATION TO SHOOT – but made the decision NOT TO, because the presence of deadly force (and my obvious willingness to USE IT) de-escalated the situation to the point where it was no longer necessary.
I hand-load all my ammo–wouldn’t give it a second thought since I don’t carry a concealed grenade launcher or 50 cal machine gun.
We shoot to stop…not kill. Your blather about killing could get you a prison sentence as your on line posts will be scrutinized.
Taking a life is not to be taken lightly…even if it saves you hospital bills.
My thoughts: I have heard this argument before, but have issues with it. I understand that all of this might become an issue in court… but, as a retired law enforcement officer I can say this: Police officers are not trained to wound anyone they shoot at. They are trained to kill them. That is why the use of a handgun, shotgun, or rifle is called the use of deadly force. Police are trained to shoot center mass and at the head. The bullets they use are less about controlled penetration and more about doing as much damage as possible to the person being shot (Sky Marshalls being the exception).
Even when I took my conceal carry course I was directed to shoot center mass for the qualification portion of the course.
If ever there is a time that I find myself having to use deadly force (God forbid) I will try to kill that person.
I’ve talked to several defense attorney’s in VA at several US Law Shield Seminars that we have sponsored through the gun store, Every single one of them when asked this question stated it would have zero bearing on the case and would be easily dismissed if brought up in trial.
Cite one case where this argument against reloads has been successfully used.
My thoughts exactly. The author created a scenario to support his argument; are there any real examples?
If asked ” did I create those bullets…” my answer would be NO. I bought the bullets (I assembled the bullets into a loaded round with powder primer & case) but would not offer that part of the answer ( answer only what you’re asked-don’t offer additional information).
I too believe this is basically BS, but why take the chance that you face a really rabidly anti gun prosecutor? I use factory ammo in all my self defense guns.
You actually believe this bs? A lead bullet is like any other. Its not like you can make them out of uranium or rub them on poison toads just to be sure.
Total BS. Retired 30 yr leo and it certainly doesn’t work this way in WI.
Well anyway,the same fact that you are carrying AT ALL can be used by a shyster lawyer to claim that you intended to kill the so called “victim”-but regardless of what ammo one uses, the problem was SOLVED!!!
So much hyperbole. Maybe in NJ or NYC. Using the authors rationale this could be said of any personal protection round regardless of the source. The shooting will be judged on it’s merits not the ammo. I’m glad I still live in the free state if WI. Never seen or heard any ridiculous scenario like this.
Flawed article perpetuating one of the greatest myths out there regarding self-defense shootings.
Let’s just say as someone who is “in the know,” this article is way off-base.
A justified self-defense shooting is a justified self-defense shooting. Doesn’t matter if you use commercial or handloaded ammo. I’ve never, ever seen this come up as an issue.
I’m disappointed in this article, especially because it was written by someone who should know better.
Allegations are just opinions if not backed up by hard evidence. Where is the historical data to proof the authors claims?
It will be ruled a justifiable shooting or not. Ammo won’t factor in.
Bingo for criminal!
A juror that thinks hand-loaded ammo shows premeditated malice surely thinks carrying a gun in the first place does too. IF it should go to trial (justifiable shoots usually don’t unless they turn into a media circus) the defendant is going need a lawyer highly skilled at weeding out gun haters during jury selection. Else the best he/she will ever get is a hung jury even if lawful self-defense is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The anti-gun zealots don’t give squat about justice they’d rather persecute someone who exercises their 2A rights.
Please list ONE of more actual cases where a handloaded cartridge made or did not make a case against its user!
Seems to be one of those recurring \”urban legends\” that make the gun blogs every few months
Dont know where you live but where I worked as a cop………Southern Calif I call BS. Having dealt with this unless something does not add up to the handling officer the shooter AKA VICTIM of an attack is transported uncuffed to the station for his statement. Damn near everyone I know would tell the person to have an attorney present and wait to speak to the attorney first. Cops unlike lawyers know who the turds are in their area .
Handloads are a no no because of no reference in crime lab to establish distance if it becomes an issue. Never heard the issue of ammo come up in CRIMINAL court. Issue is simply justified or unjustified. Maybe in civil case a LIAR aka lawyer will bring it up but it is safe to assume anyone you end shooting will have “just turned his life around” or be studying to be some sort of minister.
I use Texas Law Shield if ever in a use of force. Take classes and with that being said. In real world situation do not pull or brandish a firearm – your mouth will be your best defence. ( IN A CALM NON THREATENING VOICE, STERN. O please person make a wise decsion and do not make me defend myself. Stay out of my space person. develope your statement so witnesses can say you did every resonable to prevent the use of force. ) Preferred carry is a revolver loaded with different ammuntion – you can get a bad round and have the saftey of just pulling a trigger again. REMEMBER IT IS NOT NOT ONLY WHAT YOU YOU DO BUT HOW YOU CONDUCT YOURSELF. THINK PEOPLE When you discharge a weapon you own the bullet. Make wise desions.
Take a deep breath, Tex.
The word, “brandish” is never used in the Texas Statutes.