When I write it is with purpose, sometimes it is for me to vent my feelings, at other times it is to offer information learned or at times to warn others about faulty products, persons and more. This article is a positive one, informational and will include factual information obtained personally or through verifiable sources. The calibers being compared and suggested for the average prepper, survivalist or individual who is vested in their families and selves protection. I will be suggesting firearms in a followup article.
I am going to offer benefits, alternatives and information on the following rounds. I own and use all of the rounds being written about. The reasons will be listed and definitively supported with evidence gathered. With ONE exception I avoid ALL surplus ammunition, again I will explain why.
1. .22 lr
2. 9×18 makarov
3. 9×19 luger
9. 7.5×55 Swiss (specifically GP11 surplus)
There is always a reason to choose what one uses from firearm type through ability to purchase regularly for practice and preparation. I tend to choose based around a very small set of needs and never WANTS!
The first round is among the most underrated rounds on the market today, it is also unfortunately becoming more difficult to get in quantity though it can be had at an average cost between 12 and 28 cents per round. While this is still less then even surplus ammunition in many cases the availability is what causes it to be an issue these days. This aside, .22lr is in my opinion both the most underrated and most necessary round one can have on hand in bulk at any given moment. A solid rifle and handgun in this caliber are essential for any of the above mentioned individual types or categories including hunting. With an almost nonexistent recoil it is the perfect round for the beginning shooter. For self defense it is not the first choice I make, though for some it is the only choice available. Small individuals and those with hand issues such as arthritis and age related issues it can still be a potent self defense round. My daughter at the brilliant age of six is quite proficient in the use of both her handgun and rifle and would be capable of defending herself adequately with it if necessary. My suggestions for the use of this round are as follows. For simple target practice, American bulk ammo is perfectly acceptable, however, for defensive or hunting purposes it is not. I personally only use Aguila or Ely ammunition at this time. It can be had in subsonic through extreme velocities (1500fps) in solid plated, solid non plated, jhp plated etc., and is Ely primed which makes it extremely reliable. Case in point I have personally used over 7000 rounds of Aguila and have NEVER had a single failure to fire regardless firearm. There are dozens of videos showing its effective nature in both hunting small and medium game as well as defense.
The next round is 9×18 makarov, I chose this round because it is necessary as a defensive piece. With small surplus handguns available at reasonable prices with minor spring changes are wonderful, accurate and extremely reliable defensive arms. Two current ammunition manufacturers make what I would call the best for this round, PPU and Hornady. Buffalo Bore also makes a very powerful self defense round though sadly it is a bit too powerful for some of the older surplus handguns that exist today, especially in that they are generally blowback firearms and not necessarily built for +P ammunition. Though I have never personally seen a failure given the cost and potential I simply avoid them at this time. PPU makes a decent jhp round that penetrates well and expands decently, though I personally carry and use Hornady FTX rounds in my guns. This round is a proven performer and 9×18 makarov is more powerful than .380/9×17. With the combination of inexpensive, reliable firearms and solid performing self defense ammunition this is a great round to use. I carry it quite regularly in addition to my standard primary Glock 19.
The next round is the 9×19 luger another somewhat diminutive round according to many on the internet and in the ethereal non shooter world this round is dismissed, however, with the combination of modern self defense loads and firearms this round has proven its ability time and again as a self defense round. I personally have used it to incapacitate javelina and hogs and find it to be quite the performer with solid self defense ammunition. My personal choices begin with Speer Gold Dot 115 grain based on performance and reliability as well as cost. I also have used and load my wifes with Hornady 135 grain as it has a milder recoil and still performs VERY well.
The next is a rifle round, used by sportsmen and military as well as police and in at least three instances this year alone self defense. The venerable .223/5.56×45 is in the right combinations a very solid hunting and self defense round. For hunting medium sized game I recommend 62 grains or more and NOT green tip metal core, the idea when hunting is to terminate the life of the hunted quickly. Since I only have AR-15s and no bolt guns in this caliber the barrel twist rate has everything to do with choices of ammunition. For self defense in my home I use Hornady 55 grain vmax, for other applications I use PPU, Federal or Hornady rounds from 55 through 70 grains in various types, jhp, vmax or fmj. This round in 55 grains (fmj) is meant to tumble when it hits a target, under 200 yards from a 16” minimum barrel it will tumble and fragment. While this is great for self defense, it is not so much for hunting. I use 62-69 grain rounds with extremely solid results for the latter.
The next rifle round is really and truly a defensive round, it is simply ballistically incapable of being anything other than a severe wound generating round, this by default tends to ruin meat so hunting is not really something it is meant for. The 5.45×39 with a Hornady 60 grain vmax round makes a VERY substantial man-stopper. With standard 60 grain fmj it will also work quite sufficiently, even if one were to take one of these in a limb you will be looking at the loss of that limb at a bare minimum. I enjoy this round, its recoil is light and performance is amazing.
Next we have the 7.62×39 which is a truly great round for defensive purposes as well as hunting. I use soft point ammunition as it expands and works quite well. I also use an SKS versus an AK and really enjoy both. Ballistically this round is equivalent to the american 30-30 round which has taken many deer in the past. It is also far less expensive then 30-30 and easier to come by in bulk at this time. I highly recommend using sp however.
The other three rounds are all ballistically similar though I have my preferences of course. Each has its own merits and benefits. The 7.62×51 is NATO standard and very popular as a hunting round. The 7.62x54r is com bloc and is quite capable of doing what the previous round will do. Lastly the 7.55×55 is a wonderful round and is still available in surplus which as stated previously is the ONLY round I use in surplus as it is non corrosive and loaded to not only spec but quite literally is loaded as a precision round and delivers the same every time you use it. I love my Swiss K11 and K31 rifles and while they are heavy, I do quite honestly believe this to be one of the best bolt rifles ever built (K31). When I purchase a firearm I do so with the intent to use it. I do not keep safe queens or collectibles simply for the sake of keeping them. I prefer to shoot what I have and become capable with each. This is why I do not use surplus ammunition.
Most surplus is corrosive and if you do not thoroughly clean your firearm after every outing you run the risk of rust and corrosion to the bore and bolt face etc., additionally more modern corrosive is not always built to match the firearm specifically. For instance the twist on Mosin 91/30s is such that using 148 grain is actually going to decrease accuracy. Rather you want to use 185 through 203 as they were built around that size and generally are more accurate with the heavier loads. Additionally milsurp while generally solid ammunition is not going to be produced to the same levels and care as more modern loads. Your firearm is an investment, whether it be for defense or not, why use something that will over time destroy them when for just a few pennies more you can have both accuracy and efficiency? This is why except for 7.5×55 I refuse to use milsurp in my firearms. Do I shoot steel cased? Of course, but milsurp? Nope.
So, what questions do you have?
Free the mind and the body will follow