Weight of ammunition matters more in some scenarios than in others.

One of the main advantages of the US military switching from 7.62mm NATO to 5.56mm NATO was the tremendous weight saving. A soldier could carry many more rounds of the smaller caliber ammunition with the same weight load.

For personal carry, my usual load-out is two spare single-stack magazines or one double-stack. My body can’t tell the difference between two magazines each holding eight rounds of .45 ACP, or one holding fifteen to nineteen rounds of 9mm Luger.

We have to adapt to changing times. It used to be when I flew to the West Coast to teach in Washington State or California, I could simply buy ammo there.  In Washington, it has become ridiculously expensive, and in California it is now impossible: to buy ammo there you need to be a resident of that state with a specific state-issued license to purchase ammo.  We can, however, enter the state with our own ammo for our own use.

Since I live on the East Coast I fly to those states. As a general rule, declared ammunition in checked baggage can weigh no more than eleven pounds. For that reason, I don’t take .45s to teach there anymore.

A box of fifty 230 grain .45 ACP cartridges weighs 37.20 ounces. A box of Federal’s American Eagle 9mm 115 grain full metal jacket 9mm weighs 21.80 ounces.  Do the math.

Of late, I’ve been using CCI Blazer aluminum case 115 grain 9mm, for one reason: it weighs less – 18.20 ounces for a box of fifty – so I can bring a little more. On my most recent trip to the Pacific Northwest I was in three states, two of which have ten-round magazine limits, so my pistol was a Springfield Ronin 1911 in “lightweight Commander” format, with ten-round Wilson Combat magazines, and the training ammo was 9mm aluminum Blazer.

The ghost of Jeff Cooper, the high priest of the .45, need not fear for my safety in going down to 9mm. My preferred carry load in that gun is the Winchester Ranger-T 127 grain +P+, rated for 1250 foot-seconds out of a 4” barrel. (The Ronin’s barrel is 4.25”.) That’s about the same as the legendary 125 grain .357 Magnum out of a short (2.0-2.5”) barrel if not a little more.

The blue states will continue to pass stupid laws. Those of us who live by Logic will continue to “improvise, adapt, and overcome.”


  1. That’s great for you, but those of us who are not LEO’s have to be disarmed, when traveling to blue states. I have no intention to ever travel to an east coast, or left coast state ever again..

  2. Mas,

    If it fits into your travel plans, Alaska Airlines allows you to take up to 50 pounds of ammunition per passenger. However, Alaska Airlines is extremely “woke”.

    Be sure to check with tsa.gov when traveling with firearms and ammunition and your airline’s section on traveling with firearms and ammunition.

  3. Well stated and on point as usual sir !
    Thank you for your years of service to the Law Enforcement community and all of the Patriots God Bless !

  4. California ammo laws are very hard for the traveling shooter. It is true that out of state residents can’t buy ammo from a gun store. However, if you are shooting on a range that has a pro-shop that sells ammo, you may buy ammo there, providing that it is only for use on their range and you don’t leave with any.

    That does mean you are at the mercy of whatever the have at the pro-shop from overpriced factory new and “remanufactured”, to ammo that your pistol doesn’t like.

    I live here in CA, and thinking about taking an out of state class that requires 800 rounds. Do you know if I can ship ammo via UPS/FedEx, as with using your info about flying, I can’t check (carry) enough ammo for the flight. Guess plan B is to buy the ammo there (they don’t have the crazy ammo laws like CA).

    Thanks for the informative article

  5. We left Washington years ago for Arizona some years ago before it got this way and it’s only worsened since then. However we went back for a family event a couple of years ago and were absolutely appalled at what we found. That said, I generally prefer 124 gr in 9mm so try to buy practice stuff accordingly. But I never thought of the Blazer angle until now, thanks Mas.

  6. Mas, I agree what you said about the effectiveness of the modern 9mm. I use to carry .45 ACP or .40 S&W. The 9mm has replaced the .40 completely, but I still keep my .45s around. Due to my age and physical decline my EDC is now a Glock 19. Anybody want to buy some .40 S&W ammo?

    Btw, keep us posted on how the Blazer works out. I won’t use it it in anything other than my AK47 of a pistol – my Glocks.

  7. I’m still young enough that the weight of my EDC set ups aren’t a problem. When I’m carrying my 4″ 686+ I also carry two HKS speedloaders full of Remington UMC 125GR SJHP 357mag. When I’m carrying my G32 I take one or two mags full of Underwood 125gr Gold Dot 357Sig. Hopefully I’ll never need to live in a Commie state again.

  8. Here I sit, unarmed. (Well, with no firearm, lol).
    We are 5,600 miles into a long road trip visiting family in disparate states, all of which do not recognize my CCP that is good in 37 states. And three do not even allow me to possess a handgun even if locked in the trunk unloaded should I dare stop to visit family for a minute much less a few days. I am still trying to find a way to adapt (short of hundreds and hundreds of $, hours and hours of unnecessary and redundant training and the associated hoops to jump through to get ‘permission’. I tell my wife “sue the bas…ds” if I cannot adequetly defend myself and do not survive or do not have the capacity to do so myself, should my good fortune turn and the highly unlikely actually happen. Not that it will help her or me; not for the money. Rather, for the natural (or, if you prefer, God given) rights of good people to do what they need to in the face of criminals (or, if you prefer, evil).

    As usual, enjoying the wise and astute words of a master. Always thankful for the likes of good men like you, Mas. And same for the likes of the Evil Princess’ side of the human equation.

  9. “One of the main advantages of the US military switching from 7.62mm NATO to 5.56mm NATO was the tremendous weight saving. A soldier could carry many more rounds of the smaller caliber ammunition with the same weight load.”

    Yet, critics of the 5.56mm NATO round persist. It has never been accepted as completely satisfactory. This is especially true when used against: (a) targets at longer ranges, (b) targets wearing body armor, or (c) lightly armored vehicles.

    It is interesting that the military seems to be making an effort to move away from the 5.56 NATO round back toward a more powerful round. See this link:


    To help offset the increasing weight of this larger caliber ammo, the military is also experimenting with various types of polymer cased ammo. See this link:


    It looks like the military wants to “have its cake and eat it too”. They want ammo that carries like 5.56 NATO but hits like 7.62 NATO. With these new 6.8 mm polymer cased rounds, the military may be approaching this dream. We will have to wait to see what the future holds.

    Mas, you talk about carrying the 9mm Blazer ammo because it saves some shipping weight. If that is a priority, what about some of the polymer bullet 9mm rounds such as this?


    With its 65 grain weight bullet, it has to be lighter than even Blazer’s 115 grain round. It might be more expensive than the Blazer ammo, I don’t know.

    I suppose that the ultimate lightweight 9mm ammo would be some combination of a polymer cased 9mm Luger cartridge loaded with an APX polymer-copper composite bullet. Velocity would be about 1,650 fps with a muzzle energy of 393 ft-lbs.

    I have not seen the combination of polymer case plus polymer-copper composite bullets yet in 9mm. However, it is probably just a matter of time.

    Quote of the Day:

    “Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

    Benjamin: Yes, sir.

    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

    Benjamin: Yes, I am.

    Mr. McGuire: Plastics.”

    Dialog from the Movie ‘The Graduate (1967)’

    • Scratch my idea about the Inceptor target ammo. I looked online and it appears that the Inceptor folks have discontinued their line of 9mm target ammo. They only seem to offer defensive ammo now.

      I weighted a box of their 74 grain defensive ammo at 8 oz. for 25 rounds. That would have put their 65 grain target ammo at about 15 oz. per box of 50. A savings of more than 3 oz per box of 50 over the Blazer ammo. However, that point is moot since this line of ammo is discontinued.

      One can still buy their defensive ammo but it would be cost prohibitive for target use. I used Ammo Seek to check out the prices. A case of 250 rounds of Inceptor defensive ammo goes for (best price) about $95 plus shipping. You can buy the Blazer ammo for about $130+Shipping for 500 ROUNDS. In other words, the Inceptor defense ammo is almost 50% more expensive than the Blazer.

      So, as I said, scratch the idea about the Inceptor target ammo. The Blazer ammo does seem to be the best combination of low shipping weight plus economical price.

      It does seem to be the “Best Bang for the Buck” in lightweight 9mm practice ammo, if you can forgive the pun! 🙂

    • As many of us know, Jeff Cooper taught that the .223/5.56 is a varmint round. He considered the largest animal which should ethically be shot with this round to be a coyote. He called the M-16/AR-15 a “carbine,” not a “battle rifle.” Our military has almost two decades of combat experience in Iraq/Afghanistan. We should be able to measure the performance of the M-16, versus the AK-47, versus the M-14.

      • Yes, Jeff Cooper also called the .223/5.56 round a “Poodle Shooter”.

        As I understand it, he was not suggesting that it was only good for shooting French Poodles. Rather, he was referring to “Prairie Dogs” as “Poodles”. In other words, he was doing exactly as you said. He was suggesting that the round was only fit for shooting varmints.

        Increasing the rifling twist rate and going to the heavier M855 ball round, versus the original M193 ball round, did not curb his criticism. He never felt that the 5.56 NATO round was enough gun for full military use.

        Certainly, in longer range combat areas, like Afghanistan, his point seems valid. The military reached back for the 7.62 NATO, plus even heavier rounds, for a lot of its work in that environment.

        Combined with the increased use of body armor and better protection on other targets, one can see why the military is now looking at a 6.8mm round with better long range performance and better penetration versus the old “Poodle Shooter”. 🙂

  10. That particular Winchester ammo is hard to find, so I ordered some Underwood 124 grain Gold Dots at 1300 fps out of my Glock 19. Like you I carry one spare, that’s made for a mod 17 or a 21 round mag in a horizontal mag pouch, so it don’t poke my 75 year old love handles.
    Thanks for another excellent post. JimmyK

  11. always curious about “logistical solutions”… I can see you could only bring about 400 rds of 9mm ~ not even enough for a typical 500rd training event.

    Can you ship a load of ammo to Yourself via the FFL at the event site in any of those Western states of self-destruction?

    Could a traveling companion carry YOUR ammo in THEIR airline luggage? Or would that trigger laws in the “foreign” state? It is YOUR ammo, not being transferred in ownership.

  12. Those of us who live in Blue states should stop putting up with stupid laws. This passive go along to get along would dumbfound, and piss off the founding fathers to no end. We should just stop it, and elect some politicians with morals and balls who believe in the constitution. Enough said.

    • We should just stop it, and elect some politicians with morals and balls who believe in the constitution.

      Fantastic idea! I wonder why nobody else thought of that! [/sarcasm]

      The hard part is the “how”. As in, “How do we convince a million or so of our neighbors to vote opposite their history and ideals?”

      I come from Oregon. I have a LOT of conservative, freedom-loving friends in Oregon, and they each have their own circle of family and friends, many of whom I don’t know. We all vote conservative/Republican, and most of our nominees for legislators and governors have morals and believe in the Constitutions (U.S. and State), and a few even have spines.

      But our nominees never get elected; we’re not enough to overcome the ~2 million hardcore Leftists in the greater Portland Metro Area, plus another half-million or so between Salem and Eugene. (For reference, Oregon has a total population just shy of 4.25 million, and the Democrats have gerrymandered the districts to give them a legislative super-majority most terms.) Even if every single other voter votes conservative/Republican — which never happens; every place has a few Leftists — we still can’t win. There’s just no way to add it up.

      Unless and until we figure out that math problem, “We should just stop it…” is a pipe dream. If you have any ideas, please, I’m all ears.

  13. I’ve been using the aluminum cased Blaser for decades. Generally cheap and in the 115 gr version of 9 mm surprisingly “brisk”. The 124 gr not so much. I have very dim recollection of the JHP version of the 115 gr doing well in the expansion department.

    IIRC, I wasn’t as happy with the Blaser revolver ammo.

    A good friend who was a highly ranked ISPC/USPSA shooter used to ship his match/practice ammo UPS/Fedex prior to matches. I think he was shipping to the range involved. However, things might have changed since then, especially in certain states. I (or my employer) always picked classes I could drive to, amazing what you can cram into a rental car.

  14. Additional comment in re the proposed new service rifle cartridge: given the alleged 80k psi pressure rating, I’ll be interested to see how that works out after baking in the desert sun for awhile. Granted a lot has changed-especially powder formulations- over decades, but M2 ball was somewhat downloaded to allow for elevated pressures in tropic conditions.

  15. We’ve strayed somewhat from the original topic, that said: The concept of the .22 caliber infantry round was broached during/right after Korea (nearly 70 years ago) following an exhaustive study on how casualties were caused in WWII. The vast majority of casualties were caused by crew served weapons and the average infantryman rarely engaged over 300 yards. Please recall that average infantryman only had his Mark 1 eyeball to find targets. His hit probability doubtless left something to be desired.

    Now, a different set of folks (desk bound types?) later decided that the 5.56×45 mm round needed to be able to penetrate the helmet of the day at 600 meters. This particular gem was put forth prior to virtually every infantry person getting some form of optical sight. Must be some eagle eyed soldiers being bred somewhere. Song and story hath it that the SS109/M855 projectile lacks some of the characteristics of the M193 ball that made it very effective in close combat. Haven’t been able to get a small sample to do performance tests. I worked with a slew of folks who had direct experience in the sandbox and none of them appeared to have any issues with the round or weapon. In the circumstances it was intended for, it seems very capable. And, optical sights of various varieties seem commonplace allowing for better target acquisition.

    However, when you start engaging enemies in wide open spaces and/or mountains, the opportunities for longer ranges becomes more of an issue. As does the upgraded personal armor already cited. The question is, can the average snuffy make the upgraded range and ballistic delivery pay off given the reduced ammo load and increased recoil even with the greater use of optical sights?

    To quote Evan Marshall: “It ain’t the arrow, it’s the Indian”.

    • “The question is, can the average snuffy make the upgraded range and ballistic delivery pay off given the reduced ammo load and increased recoil even with the greater use of optical sights?”

      Making hits at long range has never been easy for the average soldier. Will improved equipment and sights make a difference? Long range rifle shooting is in vogue right now. Certainly, it can be done. But can it be done in an American Army that values “diversity” and “left-wing Ideology” above winning a war?

      I can do no better than quote Jeff Cooper again:

      “The day in which infantry soldiers won battles at long range with rifle fire is past. In our era of instant communication, enemies detected at any distance are taken under fire by support weapons, and even if they are engaged by personal arms no modern army spends enough time on marksmanship to teach its people to hit enemy soldiers reliably at any great distance, when under pressure…..Any talk of 400-to 600-yard hits with a poodle-shooter is based upon unrealistic targets, such as large black spots on large white sheets of paper. At Gunsight Ranch we have been working with a variety of military units for many years, and we find that troops armed with the standard 5.56 cartridge of the Western World pose very slight hazard to individual, indistinct, intermittently visible human targets at 300 meters – under battlefield conditions. We also find that the tiny bullet of the 5.56 loses its capacity to inflict damage radically as its velocity drops off with range.” – Jeff Cooper – Role of the Five – from his book ‘To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth’

      As I noted before, Jeff Cooper was not a fan of either the 5.56 NATO or the 9mm Luger cartridge. We have improved ammo nowadays. This is especially true for the 9mm ammo. With improved ammo, the 9mm has become a much better close-range self-defense round. The 5.56 NATO also seems adequate for close range work (house clearing, street fighting, etc.).

      However, it seems to me that Jeff Cooper’s observations as to its inadequacy as a long range military round are still good. Just my opinion. YMMV.

    • One thing we try to do is have one rifle for short, medium and long range combat. Although, we do have the “designated marksmen” for longer range firing nowadays. In WWII, they didn’t try to have one gun do everything. There was the Garand, the M1 carbine, the Thompson and Grease guns, and the BAR. The 1903 Springfield was still around, too. A rifle for long range will not be ideal for short range, and whatever is used for short range will not be ideal for long range.

      Some of our soldiers got a lot of combat experience in the sandbox. If they are happy with the M-16 and the 5.56 NATO round, then I will submit to whatever they say. My “combat” experience comes only from reading books.

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