How a charging moose made me change what I carry…

I did a podcast interview a couple of weeks ago with Jeff Anderson from Modern Combat And Survival Magazine.

You can click >HERE< to hear the podcast:

I was staying at Jeff’s a few months ago and he was fascinated with how I loaded my Glock magazines and wanted to share it with his listeners.

So, today, we’re going to talk about the “unusual” way I load my mags…but I need to share a quick story for it to make sense.

A few weeks ago, I was trail running with my dog…a 90 pound Malinois.

She typically runs ahead a bit and then comes back to see why I’m taking so long.  Occasionally, she’ll take a detour to protect me from a squirrel or grouse.

So, this day, she runs around a bend like normal and is suddenly making a bee-line back to me…and past me…and she laid down right behind my feet.

I looked up and what must have been a 7,000 pound moose with smoke rolling out of it’s nose was charging me.

(ok…it was probably only 1,000 pounds and there was no smoke, but it was HUGE and MAD)

I found myself on a 10 foot wide logging road, my guard dog faithfully protecting my Achilles, a near vertical embankment on my right, a dropoff on my left, and an angry moose charging at me.

In the past, I would have freaked out.  This time, I was ready…not cocky or arrogant, but ready.

I quickly picked my line I was going to take over the dropoff, drew my Glock 26 subcompact pistol that I run with, and, in my best command voice, yelled, “STOP!”

And she actually did.  She stopped, turned around, and slowly walked away.

I don’t have any illusions that she stopped out of fear…she’d made her point and wanted to conserve calories.

You see, this wasn’t my first time being charged by a moose.

Fortunately, I haven’t had to shoot one yet.  Technically, it would be legal to defend myself, but it would be a pain in the butt and I wouldn’t get to keep the meat,  so I’ve chosen to not shoot…even when the smart move probably would have resulted in at least a couple of dead moose.

Now, if you’re thinking that a Glock 26 (9mm) subcompact is no match for a charging moose, I’ve got a surprise for you.

What if I told you that I load my pistol magazine in such a way that I can effectively engage porcupines 10 feet away with a rock wall behind them, 2 legged attackers, as well as bears and moose?

If you think it’s impossible, you would have been correct a few years ago, but ammo has made dramatic leaps forward in what it’s able to do in specialized situations.

Here’s how I load my mags

Keep in mind that I load my magazines for MY situation.  I don’t suggest that you load your magazines the same way, but you might want to think about how you load your magazines as a result of reading this.

Also keep in mind that no matter how you load your magazine, you’re compromising.  There is no perfect, one size fits all solution that works for everyone and every situation.

My Glock 26 has a 10 round capacity and I use a +2 mag extension.

I take out my round in the chamber almost every day for demoing and/or dry fire and have found that it works best for me to store it in the magazine…so I carry 12 instead of 12+1.

I also carry a 17 round spare magazine about half the time…loaded the same way that I load my primary.

I think you’ll agree that the correct tacticool approach would be to carry 12+1 and ALWAYS carry a 17 round backup.

That’s just not always my reality.

Here’s how I load my magazines…

My top 2 rounds are frangible.

I do that because I live in a canyon with a lot of rock walls and I end up shooting predators with my carry gun when I’m outside around the house, hiking, or trail running.

Since I’m just doing my thing and not on a range shooting, I normally don’t have any kind of eye protection on.

This creates a very real situation with ricochets.

Since I’ve taken spall (ricocheted metal) several times and had a ricochet lodged in my cheek bone, this is real world for me.

Frangible rounds are highly compressed copper powder held together with an epoxy.

When they hit steel, concrete, brick, or rock, they disintegrate.

For me, it means that if I shoot into rock, there will be rock and dust fragments flying, but no spall.

These are very effective self defense rounds, so I’m not compromising by having them as my first 2 rounds.

They could easily stop a threat if need be.

In fact, some of the most respected security personnel who work in environments with high pressure pipes oftentimes use frangible ammo because of how effective it is on people but not on metal.  (Think nuclear facilities, power plants, oil refineries, etc.)

That being said, if I’ve got a 2 legged threat in front of me, I want every advantage possible, so my next 3 rounds are Speer G2 147 grain polymer filled hollowpoints.

These are incredibly effective rounds that open consistently and open WIDE when they encounter fluid…even after going through a wall, windshield, or car door.

The vast majority of self-defense shootings with a pistol last less than 3 seconds and use less than 3 rounds, so the chances of needing more than 5 rounds against a 2 legged threat are slim but…

I’ve got another class of real-world threats just on the other side of my bedroom window that are 3-5 times bigger than a man…and that take more penetration and a different bullet design.

As I told you, I run into moose fairly often, but we also have bear and sometimes elk in rut in our canyon.  We also have invasive Canadian grey wolves and mountain lions, but moose are by far the most dangerous.

So, in the fall and winter, my next 5 rounds are Buffalo Bore 147gr hard cast bullets.

Most defensive bullets are designed to have around 18” of penetration.  The Buffalo Bore hard cast frequently have 48” of penetration and have been proven for bear defense for almost 2 decades.

Where a full metal jacket round has a rounded nose and slips through tissue and deflects off of bone, the flat nosed hard cast bullets punch through like a fist.  Which means if a bear or moose or elk are charging, I’ve got a tool that can finish the job.

In addition, if you remember anything about geometry or trig, a flat angle sends massive energy waves out perpendicular to the direction of travel, which means more tissue damage and more potential for shock.

Is there risk of over-penetration?  Yes.  There is a risk of shooting through a bad guy who’s posing a lethal threat to you and hitting someone behind them…but there’s a much higher risk of missing the bad guy completely and hitting someone behind them.  And, where I live, a round that may work well in summer may not penetrate as effectively on big guys wearing winter leather over Carhartt coveralls.

I mentioned that I carry this way in the fall and winter, but I don’t carry hard cast the rest of the year.  Instead, the rest of my magazines are filled with G2s.

Now, don’t read too much into what I’m saying about the Buffalo Bore hard cast bullets…they’re not something you want to hunt with and they’re not a guaranteed big game threat stopper.

My strategy is to get rounds on target while keeping a tree between me and the threat in hopes that the threat will stop before the threat figures out how to out-manuver me around the tree.

I know that it’ll take at least 1 second of shooting to fire the first 5 rounds and to chamber the hard cast rounds and that a moose can travel 30-40 feet in that time…and unless they hit the central nervous system, it’ll take time for them to have an effect.  Like I said, this is a compromise.

Because of that, when I know I’m going to be in the woods a lot, I’ll switch my load to 2 frangible, then 5 hard cast, and the rest G2.

When it’s all said and done, it’s still a 9mm and not a .454 or a shotgun slug…but it’s way more effective than a typical self-defense round.

If we make this personal, how’s this apply to you?

Well, my exact setup isn’t going to be practical or necessary for most people.

Most people don’t need to draw and fire their carry pistol to defend their livestock and pets as a regular part of their life.

Most people don’t need to worry about the best ammo for punching through the skull of a charging moose.

But a lot of people could benefit from having a frangible round in their chamber and 1-2 more on the top of their magazine.  My go-tos for frangible are either Team Never Quit from Marcus Luttrell and Polyfrang.

What else may be smart for you?

“Snake” or “bird shot” may be a good first round if you live in snake country.

“Streak” non-flammable tracer rounds may be something to consider for your last 2-3 rounds to trigger a reload.  They’re also ridiculously useful for sighting in guns/optics and I’ll be doing a review on them in the next few weeks.

If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for the serious shooter in your life, >THIS< should be at the top of your list.  It combines cutting edge firearms training with vision training, effective combat movement and at-home stress modulation techniques proven to work when you find yourself under violent attack.  No matter your age, no matter your current ability, this training combines every course I’ve put out and many that I haven’t to help you blast through plateaus and improve faster than you thought possible.

 

 

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10 Comments

  • JOHN

    Reply Reply December 22, 2018

    CAMPING HIKING AND A SIDEARM FOR HUNTING/FISHING, I CARRY A GLOCK 20 OR 40 10MM, GREAT GUNS, NOW I SEE MUCH REFERENCE TO BUFFALO BORE, UPON GETTING INTO 10MM I CHECKED THEM ALONG WITH DOUBLE TAP AND A FEW OTHERS, BY FAR UNDERWOOD TAKES THE CAKE, I URGE ALL OF YOU TO AT LEAST TRY UNDERWOOD, BALLISTICS SEEM TO BE BETTER, IVE HAD GREAT RESULTS FOR MY 10, AND ALSO WITH THEIR RIFLE ROUNDS, AND THEIR PRICES ARE A LITTLE LESS THAN BB.AS FAR AS CALIBERS, THE 9MM HAS COME A LONG WAY, BUT A PROPERLY LOADED 10MM IS PROBABLY THE BEST DANGEROUS GAME AUTO YOU CAN DEFEND YOURSELF WITH IN THE STICKS, JUST MY OPINION. HOPE THAT HELPS….PS I HAVE NO AFFILIATION WITH UNDERWOOD-LOL STAY SAFE

    • Ox

      Reply Reply December 22, 2018

      I LOVE 10MM, but it’s not for everyone and it’s too big for me to carry daily and on long runs. And, yes…I don’t have anything bad to say about Underwood. I’m not real fond of Double Tap’s 2 projectile cartridges for anything other than range play, but their serious loads are great.

      I’d tend to agree on the 10mm being the most effective semi-auto for dangerous game for long days and heavy loads….44mag wins on some of the stats, but time-to-accurate-first-hit on target goes to the 10mm, weight goes to the 10mm, multi-shot capability goes to the 10mm, and price goes to the 10mm.

  • Larry

    Reply Reply December 21, 2018

    Hey Ox. Good article, good information. As a family that camps a lot, I found the Buffalo Bore 147gr to be a credible choice, after a lot of research. Thankfully haven’t had to put it into practice. My edc is Hornady Critical Defense.
    I stay loaded with them, (buffalo bore) the whole time we are in the wild, just for the fact that I can defend against an animal, or a perp behind a tree if needed. My spare mag contains my hornady loads, as a mag change, with practice, doesn’t take long. As you stated, everyone needs to know their own situation, and plan,eqip and buy accordingly.
    BTW, practice.Even if it’s you just running scenarios in your head while camping. Be aware.

  • Gary Rabetoy

    Reply Reply December 21, 2018

    When I lived in Utah I had two Labrador Retrievers that I hiked with almost every day on a variety of mountain trails. On several occasions I was attacked by moose which were temporarily stopped by the dogs allowing me (and them) to retreat. One of my stories was almost identical to yours but there wasn’t enough writing space allowed for me to tell you the whole story. Anyway, from my experiences, I believe that virtually all animals have a space (some a lot bigger than others) and if one gets outside that space, nothing happens and everybody goes home safely without damage. The line of demarcation can be exceedingly sharp. You and your dogs just have to be outside that line.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply December 21, 2018

      I would love to have had drone footage of your encounters and mine…I think you’re 100% correct and it’s my guess that when it’s a cow, that line in the sand has something to do with the location of her calf/calves. During the rut with a bull, I’ve always gotten the feeling that I’m just looking at half a ton of stupid with horns.

  • William D Moody

    Reply Reply December 21, 2018

    Thank you for the response and I see the reasoning behind your choice of the Buffalo Bore over the Honey Badger. I’ll be loading some Buffalo Bore the next time I’m in bear country, although I did harvest one with a .270 at 40 yards.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply December 21, 2018

      “Harvesting” and “defense” are 2 very different things in this context. As I said, I wouldn’t go hunting for moose or bear with 9mm hard cast, but it’s nice to know that I’ve got ammo that gives me the penetration that might get the job done in a worst-case scenario.

  • Emory

    Reply Reply December 21, 2018

    Excellent!
    Thank you

  • William D Moody

    Reply Reply December 9, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this about what rounds to carry and why. I often hunt deer in black bear country and carry my S&W 9mm (17 rd mag) as backup protection just in case I need it. A question: would the “Honey Badger” round be effective for bear?

    • Ox

      Reply Reply December 10, 2018

      My initial thought is that it wouldn’t be effective on bear, but that’s based on physics, terminal ballistics, and an educated guess…not actually shooting stuff with it. Here’s why:

      1. The Honey Badger is light. The Buffalo Bore 147s are 50% heavier. My GUESS is that the Buffalo Bore will punch through bone/sinew better.
      2. Honey Badger is designed to meet FBI specs…12-18″ of penetration. Buffalo Bore is designed as a defensive load (not hunting load) for big game.

      This isn’t a slight against the Honey Badger…I’m a BIG fan of the ARX and other non-expanding bullets and I think that they’re a great choice for 2 legged threats and up-to-man-sized problems that you may face in the wild.

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