Exotic Ammunition What's Good and What's Gimmick
Article Posted: Septermber 7, 2012
There are a wide variety of exotic ammunition on the commercial market to choose from when purchasing rounds, such as the Glaser Safety Slug, Mag-Safe, GECO BAT 9mm, Thunderzap, et cetera. As a general rule it is best to avoid exotic ammunition for self-defense purposes due to the fact it is often expensive, unreliable, and in most cases less accurate than American factory loaded ammunition. As stated previously practice is the best possible way to ensure you can react in a high stress situation, and purchasing exotic ammunition is going to cost a lot of money to burn through hundreds of practice rounds, which could lead to some people never practice firing their firearm to ensure the proper tactics are used in a real life situation. This is a big mistake: you should not carry a particular type of ammunition until you have fired at least 150 rounds through your semi-automatic gun to ensure reliable feeding (this doesn't really apply to revolvers, but you should still fire the ammunition you intend to carry to assure yourself of its accuracy).
Glaser Safety Slugs Not So Gimmicky
'Glaser Safety Slugs' are one exotic round that are recommended, but only for revolvers in a few scenarios. The Glaser is a proven man-stopper and has very good quality control, but may not feed or cycle reliably in an automatic pistol. Because you cannot afford to fire enough Glasers to establish that it feeds reliably in your pistol (i.e. 100 test-fire rounds will cost $300), They are not recommend them for pistol owners (if you insist on Glasers, carry one in the chamber and load the magazine with a proven hollow point. Be aware, however, that the Glaser may not have the power to cycle your slide, and thus you may be carrying a single-shot gun. You can always cycle the slide manually, of course, but this takes time and both hands; two things you may not be able to spare when fighting for your life. The Walther PPK, H&K P7 series and SIG P230 are notorious for this failure-to-cycle problem with Glaser Safety Slugs).
Feedback on revolvers is not an issue because the cylinder revolves around as the user cocks the hammer to chamber the next round into the barrel. This makes feeding rounds into a revolver a non-issue unlike pistols that require enough force from the bullet recoil to chamber the next round. There are other factors to consider when using a revolver though. The Glaser is designed for easy break-up and minimal penetration, which is great for cutting down ricochet and over-penetration dangers but drastically limits its ability to penetrate light cover between you and your foe. A car window, hollow-core door, or even thick winter clothing between you and your assailant can cause the Glaser to disintegrate and leave him unharmed. Bad news for you....great news for him.
There are some situations where the Glaser is a good choice, however. I keep my bedside .357 revolver loaded with .38 Special+P Glasers, because I live in a thin-walled apartment building and want to be able to put down an intruder rapidly without worrying about injuring my neighbors. I chose .38 over .357 Magnums because I am likely to be in a just-awakened daze and would rather not be blinded and disoriented by the flash, kick and blast of firing a .357 Magnum in a (probably darkened) room. You may have a similar situation (e.g. retail store defense) where injury to third parties is of concern, and you'll likely be facing an assailant at extremely close range where the Glaser's inaccuracy and inability to penetrate cover will not be drawbacks. In these narrowly defined scenarios, the Glaser is a good choice, but keep a couple of speed loaders of hollow-points handy, just in case. I do.
Glaser Safety Slugs are available in "Blue" or "Silver" versions. The Blue produces immediate energy dispersal, creating almost instant stopping power on a target. The Blue bullets are designed for warm climates and people wearing light clothing. The Silver version will give an additional two inches soft tissue penetration on a target, controlled energy release and accuracy when using a self-defense handgun. The Silver bullets are designed for cooler climates and people wearing heavy clothing.
Mag-Safes are imitations of Glasers, and I cannot recommend them due to poor quality control. Reliability is the number one requirement of a self-defense handgun, and Mag-Safes don't make the grade.
Blitz Action Trauma Pretty Good
GECO "Blitz Action Trauma" or BAT 9mm rounds from Germany are a proven design. Called the "GECO Action Safety" in Europe, this is a high velocity (1400 feet per second) lightweight (86 grain) hollow bullet that has proven itself to be very reliable and successful on the street. I recommend them, but they are very tough to find. Save yourself the trouble and use a good American-made hollow-point.
Other exotics are best avoided. You may occasionally encounter "Thunderzaps," "Omni-Shocks," "Terminators," "Annihilators," "Kaswer Law Grabbers," and other such marginalia in gun shops. Stay away. If you want to gamble, go to an Indian reservation. Don't gamble with your life, or the lives of others. Glasers and GECO 9mm BATs are the only proven exotic cartridges.
Contributing Author: Jason Brumett. Based off original work from Evan Marshall, Massad Ayood, and Ed Sanow