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Ammo: The Handgunner’s Soul Food

Your roscoe of choice or simply the “weapon at hand” may be an Ortgies 7.65, a veteran Smith & Wesson Model 10, a Kimber Super Carry or a re-furb’ed Gen-1 Glock 17. As long as that shooter is sound, most handguns can be adapted to a wide range of purposes. Whether your training is military, law enforcement, sporting competition, self-defense or just down-home basics, the fundamentals of grip, sighting and trigger control are the same, and if your head’s screwed on straight, you and that gun can be effective on tin cans, targets or terrorists. But then there’s the ammo factor.

Weather and thick clothing are serious considerations in choosing personal defense ammo. Penetration and ricochet characteristics figure heavily in defense of your home. Magazine capacity and caliber should be taken into account when assessing terminal bullet performance too. Practice and training ammo can be matched as closely as possible to your primary ammunition for consistency in recoil effect and point-of-aim/point-of-impact.

There are a host of considerations, but happily for us, there’s an even greater host of choices! You and your roscoe may be omnivores or picky eaters, but just have a taste of these offerings — there’s some soul food here for you both!

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Double Tap

I’ve shot a bunch of Double Tap ammo in the past year, mostly in .45 ACP, 5.56mm and 7.62x51mm, and I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve been impressed. You know how sometimes when you open a box of ammo from a maker you’ve never heard of, you kinda expect it to look second-rate? Dull, scratched by unpolished dies, with maybe one round with a primer not quite seated, another round with a primer crunched in sideways, and a couple of slugs obviously not seated to the same depth as the others?

I don’t think I had even heard of Double Tap before about 18 months ago, and didn’t know what to expect when I first tried `em. This is some really nice ammo! I’m not just talking about “clean, bright and uniform,” but in performance too, and though I’ve mostly been shooting fairly “plain-Jane” stuff – FMJ ball – they offer the finest components in a terrific array of mild, hot and oh, baby! loads to please just about any gunner. The variety is pretty amazing, and when checking out their web site, note that they offer 500-round bulk-pack boxes as well as 50’s.

Shown in the photo are .45 ACP 230-grain FMJ Brass Match rounds loaded to 1,010 fps and 185-grain Nosler JHP’s loaded to 1,225 fps, both from 5″ barrels – and they’re both butt-kickers!

Okay, you’re gonna call in to ask about the T-shirt in the background anyway, so I’ll tell you here: That design is taken from “rebel propaganda” posted by the Sons of Liberty after the Boston Massacre in 1770. Our patriot buddy Brady Miller sells the SOL T and other “subversive apparel” at www.givethemliberty.com.


In the print copy (March/April 2012) we showed you Speer’s new Gold Dot .22 WMR load, and here’s another winner: the 40-grain CCI Maxi-Mag, loaded to 1,875 fps. I’m no expert on .22 Mag rounds, but it seems to me this would be your perfect summer round, with perhaps less penetrating power but greater expansion, while the Gold Dot is your “winter warrior” round, delivering superior penetration with still decent expansion. You’ll note the box says the Maxi-Mag is for “Target-Plinking.” Yeah; I’ll bet paper targets and tin cans are really impressed with rounds that expand like this!


Another round I’ve been really impressed with in the past year has been Winchester’s Defender PDX1bonded jacketed hollow point loads. It’s a real premium defensive ammo with superior terminal performance and excellent quality and ballistic consistency; a great example of truth in advertising. PDX1 .380 ACP ammo really shines in that caliber, and the latest addition to the line is their 125-grain .357 SIG round, shown above. I fully expect this one to win loyalty from a lot of users too.


I don’t think anybody in the world knows more about penetration on big game with .44 Magnum and .45-70 rounds than Randy Garrett, the founder and boss bullet-pusher at Garrett Cartridges. Those are the only two calibers he produces ammo in, and he knows them the way only a true specialist can. A trip to his web site can teach you tons about going after — or defending yourself from — big, tough, dangerous game, and the tools to do it with. If you own a solid .44 Mag revolver, you owe it to yourself and your gun to check out his loads, like the one shown: a 310-grain SuperHardCast Hammerhead that clocks 1,020 feet per second from a 4″ revolver barrel. And, he doesn’t just make hard, hefty slugs and drive `em fast; the velocities he loads to are carefully selected to provide optimum penetration and bone-busting power.



I heard about Bitterroot Valley Ammunition Company by word of mouth from some hard-core high country hunters, and they give BVAC’s ammo five stars for consistency and performance. It’s a smallish company but growing fast, staffed with zealous Montana hunters and all-around shooters, passionate about power and precision — and dedicated to turning out ammo for working people looking for the best bang for their bucks. For their size, they turn out a healthy lineup of calibers and loads, and probably ought to get more attention than they do.

BVAC ammo is available from many dealers. Probably their largest online seller is CheaperThanDirt.com, which currently carries 134 SKU’s from BVAC. If you go there, you’ll find lots of customer reviews, the vast majority of them very positive. This outfit got its start with rifle rounds for hunting — their motto is “Made for Hunters by Hunters” — but they’ve got lots of handgun rounds too. I’d say they’re well worth checking out. Oh, and here’s their “box color code”: Red boxes are all-new ammo; yellow boxes are re-manufactured using reprocessed brass and otherwise new components. Tan boxes are high-count bulk packs.

buffalo bore

Buffalo Bore is another limited-production Montana ammunition company earning a very positive reputation and an enthusiastic following among both hunters and self-defense shooters. They concentrate on loads you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else, and supplying customers with “real-world” ballistic information on their ammo. By that I mean they don’t use “test barrels” or specialized industry-only guns and then imply the velocities and power factors are what you would get from your over-the-counter gun. No, they use the guns you use, and publish data you can read on-line, understand, and compare with the claims of other companies.

Some of the unusual loads made by Buffalo Bore are their .44 Magnum and .44 Special Anti-Personnel rounds, featuring 200-grain hard cast lead full wadcutter slugs, capable of deep, straight-line penetration and bone-busting power. Two others are their .327 Federal Heavy loads, one tipped with a 130-grain hard cast lead Keith SWC slug at 1,300 feet per second, the other with a 100-grain jacketed hollow point at 1,450 fps. Over the past few years more and more people are coming to recognize the potential of the .327 Federal cartridge, and these Buffalo Bore rounds go a long way toward maximizing it!

I haven’t shot any Buffalo Bore ammo yet — that’s on my list — but Clint Smith and His Editorial Immenseness Roy have, and they give `em two thumbs up.


Last but definitely not least, here’s an outfit filling a rare niche. My Uncle John was searching for fresh, sure-fire — not crummy old Soviet-made — 7.62×39 tracer ammo, and he stumbled across factory-fresh Lapua rounds available from Deuce45s, a very small but rapidly growing Washington state company. They do sell, like those Lapua rounds, tracer, incendiary, armor piercing and other specialty munitions from big-name factories, but they are also a federally licensed ammunition manufacturer making tracer, incendiary and tracer-incendiary rounds in… are you ready for this? Handgun calibers!

I haven’t shot any of their stuff yet, but oh, yeah, I’m going to! You’ll need to check the website for new offerings, because they are so new and rapidly expanding. For example, as I write this (October 2011) they are introducing .380 Auto, .38 Special and .357 Magnum tracer rounds, in addition to their established products in 9mm, .40 S&W, 10mm and .45 ACP, and, they just announced their new tracer-incendiary handgun rounds.

Before including them in this article I searched around and found customer reviews on Deuce45s at GunBroker.com. I went through ten pages — 100 reviews — and saw no rating under “A+” both for service and quality of product. Then I went to the last page. It was also all A+ ratings. Of a total of 1,114 total feedbacks, 1,110 were positive, four were “neutral,” and zero were negative. The reviews do not list what products each reviewer purchased, but those figures are pretty impressive. So, I reckon that for not having shot their rounds myself, I’ve at least done “due diligence” for you readers, don’t ya think?

Happy hunting to you folks – Connor OUT

For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/productindex and click on the company name.

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