What do You Want Your Bullet to Do?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I had an interesting conversation with a young man last night. We started out talking about prepping in general and ended up talking about firearms and ammo. Specifically, we ended up talking about selecting the right caliber and type of ammunition for a particular task. He had just recently bought a rifle, chambered in .300 Winchester, a round that was originally developed for fully-automatic, belt-fed firearms.

What makes the .300 Winchester such a good round is that it has a heavy bullet with extremely flat trajectory; both something that are important for armies fighting battles. It can also be important when hunting extremely large game, like bears and moose. But as a deer rifle, It’s a bit over the top.

Here’s the thing though; he had bought that rifle not because he was planning on hunting bear, moose or even bighorn sheep; he bought it because he wanted it. That was it. Hey, I get buying a particular gun, just because you want it. Many gun owners are collectors too, buying guns to add to their collection, just because they like that particular gun. I’ve even got a couple of guns that fall into that category myself. What I don’t get is people buying a gun they want, hoping it will do what they need it to.

Sadly, there’s a severe lack of ballistic knowledge within the shooting community. Many people operate under the attitude of, “I shoot a .45, because they don’t make a .46.” I’ve been known to do that myself; but that was before I learned about the different ballistics of different rounds. While I still carry a .45 as my carry gun, there are times when I would trade that for something else, probably a 9mm, because the situation warranted it.

There is no magic round, that’s ideal for everything. That goes for rifles, as well as pistols. The round used and the firearm selected, must line up with the purpose for which it is needed. We all know that a hunting shotgun is not good for home defense; both because the length of the barrel and the size of the birdshot; but we generally stop there, without carrying that type of thinking to the other rounds and firearms that we select.

My selection of the .45 as my carry gun is based on the same reason why the Army had that round developed in the first place. That is, I expect that if I ever get into a shooting altercation with a criminal, that criminal will either be high on drugs or high on adrenalin. With that being the case, I will want a round that will put them down, not necessarily kill them. That’s the .45.

On the other hand, if I ever find myself in a real gun battle, that .45 won’t be the best thing to arm myself with. While it has great energy transfer, resulting in great knockdown power, it’s harder to shoot accurately at range with a .45, than with a 9mm. Since we’re talking about a battle, rather than a crime, it will probably be necessary to shoot to kill, rather than just knock them out of the fight. Therefore, the superior penetrating power of the 9mm bullet makes a whole lot more sense than the .45.

Of course, if that battle is going to require me to be shooting at any longer range than about five meters, I’d probably be better off with a long gun of some sort anyway, either a rifle or a shotgun. From five meters out to about 100 feet, the shotgun is superior. But beyond that, I need something with a flat trajectory, such as that young man’s .300 Winchester. But then, if there was any sort of societal collapse associated with that battle, it would probably be much harder to get .300 Winchester ammunition, than 5.56 or 7.62; so, I’d probably still skip the .300.

As with any problem, the best answers come from starting out by looking at the desired result and working your way backwards from there. That allows you to take all the factors into consideration, rather than just picking something you like and trying to make it work.

It’s got to make sense, just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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