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Convince me not to use hand loaded ammo for home defense

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by smurf hunter, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. smurf hunter

    smurf hunter Auburn, WA Active Member

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    I believe I understand the reasoning against hand loads for personal defense. I've read some well articulated explanations from legal professionals on the matter.

    Consider some reality though...

    The police arrive at my house after a 911 home invasion call, and there's a dead bad guy in my living room with a machete in his hand. It's not like the cops will ask to see my ammo, and use that as a decision point whether to take me into custody. Even under the best circumstances (all things considered following such an ordeal) I'd call an attorney and spend some money just to protect myself. Depending on the political climate, the D.A. could have an agenda - or not.

    If it's really "go time", and I or loved ones face death or injury, I really don't care how I respond.

    Being judged by 12 is better than carried by 6.

    Thanks
    -Sean
     
  2. jordanvraptor

    jordanvraptor Oregon City, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    You tell cops he was 6 feet away when you shot him. CSI says powder burn pattern inconsistent with that story because they have done tests with factory ammo. You are now a liar in the DA and cops eyes. Trouble follows.

    Is your stuff that much better? Pick the best HD ammo out there and duplicate it with a reload for cheap practice.
     
  3. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom Hillsboro Member

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    Here's a few reasons; take your pick:

    1. You can buy better ammo than you can make, at least for this purpose. In multiple ways:

    a. Winchester and Federal don't sell components for Ranger T and HST bullets, which are two of the best on the market at this point.

    b. Factory ammo, especially defensive ammo and ammo commonly used by Law Enforcement will have less muzzle flash, as that's part of the design criteria.

    2. If there is any doubt regarding a shooting, and the Police do any forensic investigation, the hand loaded ammo could possibly cause you some issues:

    a. Recreation of distances, powder burns, etc, could show a discrepency between your testimony and the forensics. That of course depends on what ammo they test with.

    b. It's possible that the DA could make it an issue at trial, if it went that far. Would it be something alone that would convict? Of course not. But why make it harder on yourself.

    c. In a civil suit, which is likely, and where the burden of proof is less, an issue could be made that you were a bloodthirsty, psychotic killer, just waiting for a chance to try out your special, home-made, deadlier than anything on the market bullets on the first person who crossed your path.

    For me, it's not worth the risk.

    One bit of advice I have heard, is to load your firearm with ammo that is in current use by Law Enforcement Agencies, preferably local. If it's okay for them to use, than it must be okay for you.

    For me, this means in .45 acp I am using 230gr Ranger T series, in 9mm, I used 147gr HST. 12ga I have Federal LE 00 Buckshot, and for my AR I am use 75gr OTM rounds.
     
  4. Partsproduction

    Partsproduction Tillamook Oregon Active Member

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    I brought the question up to a retired State Police officer, he thought it was silly and said he couldn't remember ever noting what ammo was used, said they just called it a "projectile".

    I've come to the conclusion that it's much ado about nothing, and here's a photo that may make you value your life too much to trust it to factory loads;
    defective-1.jpg

    The one on the left was purchased in a full box from Walmart in Yuma, if you were loading in the dark you might load it without knowing, the one on the right was bought at the same Walmart the Next day!, and as can be seen it has no flash hole.

    What's so very odd is that this happened two days apart with two different brands from the same store, what the heck are the odds?

    Edit to add, I live in Oregon, 99.9999% of the ammo I've purchased in my life has been in Oregon. Yuma must hate me!
     
  5. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    :thumbup:

    In a civil lawsuit stemming from a self-defense claim, it would effectively (or actually) be a stipulated fact that you were trying to kill the person you shot. That is to say, you'd admit from the outset that you were trying to use force that was as deadly as possible. You can see where this is going...

    It wouldn't do the other side much good to argue that the use of evil extra-deadly homemade ammunition made you more liable. First, they'd have to show that your ammo was actually more dangerous or deadly than factory ammo. Good luck with that. Second, they'd have to show that you purposely or negligently made the ammo extra-deadly. Third, they'd have to show that those facts were relevant to the case - going back to the first issue, that you'd have already agreed that you were trying to kill your assailant, the handloads might not even be admitted as evidence.

    Still, relevancy is a pretty easy bar to cross. But even if the handloads were admitted, you'd be able to present evidence that millions of shooters handload and that it's perfectly normal. It would be a minor sideshow in your case, as the jury's main task would be to decide whether the shooting was justified. I think the worst that would happen would be a possible increase in damages if and only if a jury found you liable in the first place...


    Handload liability would really come into play in situations where you made some for a friend and they caused him to blow his hand off, or if you blew your own hand off and shrapnel flew into a bystander's eye...
     
  6. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Well stated.
     
  7. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom Hillsboro Member

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    They would just need to convince a jury, of average people off the street, as in the average moron who watches CSI and believes everything, that you were loading extra deadly ammo, just waiting for your chance to blow someone's head off.

    Remember, to the average person on the street, the type of person that would be allowed on a jury, hand loading ammo is some sort of mystical endeavor. We are talking the type of person that will likely believe that you should aim for the arms or the legs of an attacker.
     
  8. Old506

    Old506 Northwest Member

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    I saw a round just like the one on the left at the range last Friday. It was a
    .223 round out of a brand new Federal Fusion box. It locked up his Bolt solid, it was time for the rubber mallet!
     
  9. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    And this opinion is based on what? Watching Court TV or Law & Order? A Massad Ayoob column? Your experience as a juror in a big-bucks civil trial?



    Admittedly, my opinion isn't based on real-world experience - just some classroom study of (among other things) tort & evidence law...

    ...and the fact that the JURY WON'T BE DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT THE DEFENDANT INTENDED TO KILL THE ATTACKER, or what level of force should have been used. As far as the "whole shooting in the arm" thing is concerned, the defense could present a parade of expert witnesses - highly decorated police and military trainers - each of whom would say that they train students to shoot for the center mass, and that shooting at an attacker's arm or leg is foolhardy and dangerous. If plaintiff tried to rebut this with his own experts, it would be absolutely pathetic in comparison.

    A jury in such a case will be given specific instructions on how to decide whether or not the defendant's use of deadly force was reasonable. Although jurors will have plenty of ideas in the backs of their minds, trials are designed to make them focus on the factual questions at hand, as determined by the judge. Even though jurors come into the courtroom with preconceived ideas, they tend to take their jobs very seriously. And remember - they have to collaborate and agree in order to reach a verdict... one moron isn't likely to gum up the works too much.
     
  10. smurf hunter

    smurf hunter Auburn, WA Active Member

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    Great replies - thanks all.

    The practical reason I ask, is I've recently got into hand loading, and have come darn close to replicating Hornady XTP rounds. I don't own a chrony to know if I'm getting the advertised velocity in the recipe, but the cost per round is like 1/5 of buying them new when I re-use brass.
     
  11. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    Shoot the intruder/attacker with what you have in the firearm be it factory or reloads.
    It's not the police I'd be afraid of it's the sleazeball lawyers. Thats the real reason for even having to ask the question in the first place.
     
  12. Partsproduction

    Partsproduction Tillamook Oregon Active Member

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    Your lawyer should be able to counter the sideslip. One thing that he or she could bring up would be photo's like the ones I posted, which show clearly the lack of a flashole. You could not reload a round and not discover that, you couldn't get the sizer to size because the pin would hit.
    When that happened I had ear plugs in, and didn't hear a thing. I thought it was a missfire, so I dropped the mag and jacked the round out. Try going through all that when someone is shooting at you! The primer blew out and I didn't even see the pieces.
    To their credit the company that loaded the ammo sent me a new box of ammo, they were happy to know the lot number. The other one, that had the side tore down, didn't acknowledge the email with photo. I won't mention the name of the flashole less brand because they sent me another box, but the other maker is R-P.
    Would there be any newspaper mention of a bad load if I had gotten into a gunfight and either of them had left me jammed? I doubt it.
     
  13. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    Keep on loading, Smurf. After 40+ years of handloading, I still enjoy it. I carry handloads in revolvers but generally carry factory SD loads in autoloaders. Kind of an old habit from back in the days when autoloaders were designed to handle ball ammo and could be very finicky about what they ate. Today's pistols are much better about functioning with more bullet designs. Just make sure whatever you carry reliably functions in your firearm.

    I guess everyone has to determine their own comfort level with the legal issues of carrying handloads. I tend to agree with Zach and others who wrote with a like attitude, but don't discount the ability of oily lawyers to make an issue of it. Hopefully, none of us will ever have to find out in real life.
     
  14. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom Hillsboro Member

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    You seem to have a problem with my opinion, however you haven't shown your opinion to be any more qualified than my own. If you disagree with me, fine, but let's be polite about it, and not resort to negative attacks. And no, I don't watch Law and Order or court TV, I don't read Massage-a-Boob's opinions either. I tend to take advice from those who are in LE, or involved in ballistics research, rather than random people with unqualified opinions.

    I've tried prior to send people here to forums where people actually in the know tend to congregate, and share info, however it seems that people would rather just read their own comments, and those of people who mindlessly agree with them, rather than search out pertinent information. If you are interested, I suggest checking a few forums that are heavily populated by those in the know: 10-8 forums, lightfighter.net, and tacticalforums.com.

    As said in my previous statements, my opinion is that it's possible that in a civil trial that lawyers may try to make a person look worse to a jury that could decide your fate. And we aren't talking jail time here, we are talking financially. They are going to try to ruin you financially.

    IF it gets to a civil trial, and that is going to depend on a multitude of factors, including if the attacker is alive or dead, or if his estate decides to sue you, you can be sure that your mindset will come into play. Your decision to handload your defensive ammo can play into that.

    If the plaintiff's attorney can paint you as a bloodthirsty vigilante, who had loaded his own "super deadly" bullets, because what's available over the counter wasn't good enough, you will have a harder time defending yourself.

    Yes, you can parade out however many expert witness's you want, but you should keep in mind a few things:

    1. There isn't a guarantee that the jury will listen to the expert witnesses due to prior bias. You seem to think that just because someone is shown facts, that they will automatically listen to and believe those facts.

    Of course, if that was true, Obama wouldn't be President, now would he? :bluelaugh:

    2. Those experts will cost a significant amount of money, which is going to come out of your pocket.

    I know handloading ammo saves a significant amount of $$, but that does you no good if it ends up costing you 100x that amount later on.

    Just like the OP, I have some Hornady XTP bullets inbound, that I will be reloading, however, they aren't for HD or even CCW.

    Also, I am not arguing in favor of people being prosecuted for using handloads, more I am pointing to the possibility of an un-ethical lawyer making a big deal out of it.
     
  15. Mr. Black

    Mr. Black Zigzag, OR Member

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    I don't reload (yet...) but this seems to be the prevalent reason for reloading ammo. If confronted with a situation wherein I was on trail for shooting someone with reloaded rounds, I would be awful tempted to state that my primary reasoning for using the rounds that I did were for cost benefits.

    Granted, a prosecutor could then just say that you put the price of a bullet over the price of a human life (miserable criminal life, but a life nonetheless). I hate this legal system sometimes...
     
  16. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom Hillsboro Member

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    It's not just the prosecutor you have to worry about.

    Even if there are no charges filed, and the shoot is justified in every manner possible, there is risk a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the either the estate of the perp. That's where the real risk is, IMO.
     
  17. orygunmike

    orygunmike Beaverton, OR Active Member

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    you buy your ticket...you take your chances

    It's your freedom, your money

    But if I was going to pay attention to the replies provided thus far, my vote would go to "tgoesboom" - He has got it pretty much right, except I for one give a fair amount of credibility to what Ayoob has to say on the matter.

    cheers.
     
  18. Paddy

    Paddy Tacoma, WA New Member

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    I don't think it would be important. Whether it's a factory load or reload, they're both deadly.
     
  19. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    First, I'f I'm a "random person with an unqualified opinion," you most certainly are too: pot, meet kettle.

    Second, what have your friends in law enforcement and ballistics research told you about the actual use of handloads as evidence in a criminal case or civil suit? If you could share their stories, it would be a really valuable contribution to this discussion.

    Can you link us to any threads discussing the use of handloads as evidence in an actual case? That would also be a big help - it would keep us from having to wade through pages of "unqualified opinion."

    Sounds like you're making a great decision for yourself. I'd also spend a few extra bucks to avoid worrying about something like this.

    Just remember that opinions aren't facts, and not everybody worries about the same things you do.
     
  20. Partsproduction

    Partsproduction Tillamook Oregon Active Member

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    I assume you meant that you aren't arguing in favor of people being prosecuted for using handloads,?

    I love these kinds of arguments wherein we all know the law is an *&$ (name for a donkey) and we have to change from perfectly acceptable practices just because that is true. It's why we have firing pin safeties on 1911's even though the danger is statistically insignificant of it ever being useful, and in fact FPS's tend to add slightly to making a life saving tool less reliable!?!? The law is insane, and I personally believe that lawphobia should be ignored.

    The actual number of court cases wherein the fact of handloads became an issue is also insignificant, while I suspect that probably 15-20% of the shootings that take place in this country involve handloaded ammo.

    One thread I read had a well thought out response, buy the cases (New and unfired) and the bullets that local law enforcement uses. Should it come up in court (Which it probably won't, because who would know?) your attorney quickly proclaims that you are using the exact same loads the police are using. That should be a pretty effective argument, because to blame you then the jury has to believe that LE is using "killer loads". Even if they were using very deadly ammo you are simply following their lead, it could be said that you assume the protection offered is "Good enough for the police, and it's good enough for me".