When searching for the “best” ammunition for EDC, premises defense, or the downright silly (but dreaded nevertheless) “zombie apocalypse,” you will likely consider using a law enforcement product, even if you are not an LEO. Whether for pistol, AR-15, or shotgun, you will likely choose products from these brands/loads:
LE ammunition has long been recommended (for full-sized, able-bodied shooters) by firearms experts and self-defense trainers, regardless of their own background or current employment. [Who would dare deny the romance associated with and downright manliness of using coveted LE ammunition, especially those über cool hot +P+ loads? * 🙂 ]. To fill that need, and reflect the objective truth that it is very high quality factory ammunition that has been tested extensively, including simulated “real world” scenarios, manufacturers often make a “civilian” version/equivalent of some of their LE loads. That’s just fine, but, you needn’t go there.
Although a manufacturer may legend or advertise a load as “law enforcement,” “duty,” “made exclusively for law enforcement,” or “for law enforcement only,” it is fairly well-known such restrictions are merely manufacturer “policy” and notice of an intended supply chain limitation. Except for the very rare state law or local ordinance which entirely disallows or restricts usage of hollow-point or other ammunition because of projectile characteristic (for example, armor-piercing, tracer, fragmenting), a manufacturer’s imposition for its LE ammunition is not an actual legal limitation on use by the non-sworn. (For well-known actual legal limitations on sale or possession, see here: New Jersey —- San Francisco (Police Code) —- Hawaii).
Legal urban legends aside, a non-sworn’s use of LE ammunition is not likely to be successfully challenged/demeaned in court. If a foolhardy prosecutor or civil plaintiff’s attorney is erroneously allowed to make LE ammunition an issue, the quest for jury points will backfire. The response on cross-examination of one well-known self-defense shooting expert witness (Massad Ayoob) would include: “Police only loads are ‘police only’ as a matter of manufacturer policy, not law. Many believe that if police have determined this to be the best ammunition to use to protect ordinary citizens, it is logically the best ammunition for those same law-abiding citizens to use to protect themselves.”
Takeaway: LE ammunition is expensive, and sometimes hard to find, but its use is NOT problematic for the non-sworn. Best to use a product that is a current (or nearly so) loading, available in ample quantity, that shoots best with your firearm, and best fits the most likely application. (Bonded vs. non-bonded will likely dominate a discussion of intended application — to a point well beyond what it deserves). If you can, buy pistol ammunition in the 50-round LE boxes, not the “civilian” equivalent in the commercial 20 or 25-round boxes. The former is much cheaper, and having more rounds per box lends itself to more rounds downrange practice before you reload your carry magazines to “hit the street.” Note that duty rounds are still produced for revolvers. Also note, LE ammunition manufacturers load less toxic indoor training ammunition which may mimic the characteristics of an actual duty load. That ammunition is likewise legal for purchase by the non-sworn, but it is often harder to find a break in its LE supply chain.
* For the record: I have never carried +P+ rated ammunition nor recommended it.
Hat tip: LE agencies and LEOs. For getting ammunition manufacturers to make really good stuff (however labeled) that the non-sworn can rely on to defend innocent life.
Disclaimer: No MSW post constitutes particularized legal advice, or creates an attorney-client relationship with a reader.