April 2006

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Posted 4 July 2010

A Word of Caution about Hornady’s Critical Defense Handgun Ammunition
- by Shawn Dodson

According to Steve Johnson, Hornady Marketing Communications Manager, the Critical Defense line of handgun ammunition:

 " not designed to shoot through glass, is not designed to shoot through a car door, and is not designed to shoot through a wall.  If you have to shoot through something like that in a personal defense situation you're probably going to jail."

 -- NRA's American Guardian TV

Thus if you carry a concealed handgun for personal defense and need to shoot from the inside of your car, through glass or sheetmetal, then you cannot rely on Hornady Critical Defense handgun ammo to perform.  If you're stopped at the side of the road changing a flat tire and you're attacked, you cannot rely on Hornady Critical Defense handgun ammo to shoot through glass and sheetmetal, if that's what it takes to stop the attack.

Laminated automotive windshield glass is an especially difficult barrier for handgun bullets.

Ironically at least one TV commercial for Hornady Critical Defense handgun ammo depicts a couple stopped on the side of a road, in a remote location, changing out a flat tire.  In a scenario such as this you might have to shoot through a raised trunk lid, glass hatchback, raised engine hood, or through the sheetmetal of an open car door.

If you use Hornady Critical Defense handgun ammo for home defense you cannot rely on it to perform if you have shoot through concealment, such as the corner of a wall or through sheetrock and 2x4 studs near a door jam, to hit the center mass of a violent home intruder who's partially concealed, if that's what it takes to stop the attack.

Hornady Critical Defense handgun ammo is not designed to shoot through anything other than clothing.  It's not tested against anything other than bare gelatin and clothing.  Performance against commonly encountered light barrier materials is untested and unknown.  Therefore if your self-defense requirements include the capability to shoot through commonly encountered light barrier materials then Hornady Critical Defense handgun ammo is not your best choice.

The human target presents the same challenges to private citizens as it does to law enforcement.  Is a law enforcement officer more likely to have to shoot through glass, sheetmetal or the corner of a wall than a private citzen?  Probably.  But because the odds are probably greater for law enforcement to encounter these kinds of situations does not mean that the odds are zero for a private citizen.

Personal defense ammo designed especially for "private citizens" is a niche market.  Perhaps it's somehow more morally/socially appealing for a private citizen to use handgun ammunition with less terminal performance capability compared to common law enforcement handgun ammunition?

If you're looking for specific advice about what handgun ammunition to choose for self-defense then I suggest you consider the loads that have been tested and found to provide outstanding terminal performance which are listed in the thread Service Pistol Duty and Self-Defense Loads posted by Dr. Gary K. Roberts ("DocGKR") at Forums.

Personally, my primary defense handguns are the Glock 19 and Kahr PM-9.  I load both with Speer 9mm 124gr +P Gold Dot JHP ammunition, which I purchase for about $27 per 50 round box from Streicher's  Private citizens can purchase Speer Gold Dot and Federal Law Enforcement Tactical HST handgun ammunition directly from Streicher's.

Combative Shotgun Training Video Recommendations
- by Shawn Dodson

Of all the shotgun training videos I've studied the best I've come across is Shotgun CQB featuring C.J. Caracci.  It doesn't dwell on "how to shoot a shotgun" but instead focuses on home defense shotgun fighting tactics and techniques.  It's a model for what all defensive gunfight training videos should strive to be.  Approximately 90 minutes duration.  Shotgun CQB featuring C.J. Caracci is included in the DVD CQB Clearing Tactics for First Responders, which can be ordered from or rented from Netflix.

The Combat Shotgun with Louis Awerbuck: Concepts, Skills, and Tactics for Employing Shotguns in Personal Combat is an excellent choice for those who want to learn how to operate, carry and shoot a shotgun.  Awerbuck shows how to operate the Benelli Super 90M1 and Remington 11-87 autoloading shotguns as well as the dependable Remington 870 pump-action shotgun.  Plain & simple, it's just a superb "how to" presentation of battle oriented shotgun basics.  Approximately 90 minutes duration.  Available on DVD from Paladin Press.

History of the Remington 6.8x43mm Special Purpose Cartridge

The Remington 6.8mm SPC delivers terminal performance far superior to any version of 5.56x45mm ammunition currently fielded by the US military.  Zak Smith's article, published in Shotgun News, is widely regarded as the most accurate and complete report about the origin and history of the Remington 6.8mm SPC.  (Read more...) 

Paladin Press: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight
- by W. French Anderson, M.D. (2006)

Anderson's outstanding analysis of the FBI-Miami shootout has just been released to the general public by Paladin Press.  (Read more...)

Tools of Tactics
- by Shawn Dodson

I have a habit of boiling down ideas and processes into a basic outline -- a “cheat sheet."  I get rid of superfluous stuff, which helps me to focus my thoughts on key elements of a concept.  Among these ideas are John Boyd’s tools of tactics, which are comprised of a handful of intangible mechanisms used to disrupt an adversary’s intuitive sense (gut feeling) of a developing situation.

Tools of tactics are used to manipulate an adversary’s OODA Loop, to gain a time competitive advantage over him by forcing him to mentally labor to comprehend what’s going on.  Each mechanism can be used to affect an adversary’s ability to observe and orient to the circumstances he faces; in essence they impair his ability to intuitively “read the situation” and react quickly to it.  The time advantage gained might be mental (affecting an adversary’s ability to make an effective decision in time) or physical (he does not have time to get himself in position to effectively counteract your move).

For those who’re unfamiliar with Boyd’s OODA Loop and how his tools of tactics are used to manipulate an adversary’s decision-making process, my Tools of Tactics cheat sheet provides links and references to pertinent information resources that explain the OODA Loop in detail.

Training and experience help develop the skills to intuitively and quickly cycle through the OODA Loop, as demonstrated in Chet Richard’s animated Microsoft PowerPoint presentation “Boyd’s OODA Loop.”  Those who lack training and experience suffer a time competitive disadvantage because they must progress through the OODA Loop in linear manner (Observe to Orient to Decide to Act), as they’re forced to use conscious, deliberate, analytical decision-making processes.

The tools presented in my Tools of Tactics cheat sheet are not listed in any particular order of importance.  They are, however, listed in a manner to facilitate ease of remembering them.  Tools of Tactics is a compilation of Boydian concepts and my own thoughts and interpretations.

Why Four Layers of Denim Cloth?

There continues to be misunderstanding about testing JHP handgun bullet expansion using gelatin blocks covered with four layers of heavy denim cloth.

The four-layer, heavy denim cloth test was jointly developed by engineer Duncan MacPherson and California Highway Patrol to force manufacturers to design bullets that will expand more reliably when heavy clothing is encountered. (Read more...)

A Method for Recycling Ordnance Gelatin (requires Adobe Reader)

A simple procedure to recycle ordnance gelatin.  (Read more...)

Reply to Massad Ayoob's Kooky Screed
- by Shawn Dodson

My first experience with Massad Ayoob's writings, that I can recall, was in 1984, when I attended basic law enforcement training.  My instructors handed out photocopies of a three-part article he'd written about the CHP Newhall Massacre, which had been published in Police Product News.  Ayoob masterfully authored a gripping account, and the hook was set.  I found Ayoob's articles and books informative, instructive, and entertaining.

In the 1990s, I began my study of wound ballistics, and it was here where I discovered troubling issues with Ayoob’s credibility, specifically in articles that dealt with shooting incident reports and “stopping power.”  (Read more...)

Interesting Reading:

In Defense of Self and Others..., Urey W. Patrick and John C. Hall, 2005

Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods, H. John Poole, 2004

Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (requires Adobe Reader):

Classic FBI documents (requires Adobe Reader):

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