Train and defend are simple watchwords. About 99 percent of the ammunition we fire is in practice. Competition shooting takes a lot of ammunition, although staying sharp also demands its share. The problem often is finding a good practice load.
We spend plenty of time considering factory gelatin results and empirical test procedures and performing our own testing. The defense load must first be reliable.
- The self-loading handgun should feed, chamber, fire and eject with every pull of the trigger.
- The powder burn should be clean.
- A revolver should always go bang, and the ammunition should be accurate enough for personal defense.
Some regard practice ammunition as second-rate and buy the cheapest thing we can. That is not the best basis for procedure. A training program will not go well if malfunctions plague you. Generic ball ammunition, such as Winchester USA, has been a big help in that regard. The recently introduced Win1911 loads also are good choices for .45 ACP. Yet, we must address other problems with defense loads.
For example, if you adopt a fast 9mm load, such as one of the +P loads, the chances are that your practice loading may not strike to the same point of aim. That is a huge deal to those who value accuracy and strive for the best possible consistency in practice. When you know you can count on a load for reliability and accuracy, your confidence in a firearm is higher. And when you know that the practice load and duty load strike to the same point of aim your confidence level is higher.
Another reason to keep on hand a reasonable stock of high-quality practice ammunition is that you just might use it for competition or small-game hunting. My ratio of practice to defense loads in the ammo locker is about 20 to 1. However, that does not reflect the use of the loads; I probably fire closer to 250 rounds of practice loads for each service-grade expanding-bullet load, and that is to proof a handgun for that load and be certain it is properly sighted.
Winchester offers a new line called Train and Defend. The concept is to offer both a training and defense load with the same weight bullet at the same velocity. That means the training load duplicates the point of impact relative to the sight picture with the service load.
Just as importantly, the training load duplicates the recoil and muzzle blast of the defense load, which is an important consideration. While the loads are not +P rated, not everyone can handle a +P load with the attendant heavier recoil, particularly in a lightweight handgun.
Currently, Train and Defend is available in .380 ACP, .38 Special, 9mm and .40 caliber. I tested the loads in .380, .38 and 9mm. The training loads are 50 rounds to a box, while the defensive loads have 25 rounds in a box.
I tested the 95-grain training load in a Ruger LCP and GLOCK 42. The load ran fine and burned clean. In the GLOCK 42, both loads ran fine and gave good accuracy. The GLOCK 42 is surprisingly accurate, and each load worked well in that exceptional handgun.
Limited testing showed the bullet expands even at LCP velocity. Remember, an FMJ bullet simply pushes flesh aside. Any expansion results in a blunt profile and cutting, rather than pushing flesh aside. A JHP also is less likely to bounce off a bone. The Defend load has a lot going for it.
Those loads come in 147-grain weight. Accuracy with the combination is potentially high, and penetration is the long suit. Lighter loads expand more and penetrate less. The 147-grain weight is easy to control and provides excellent accuracy.
I fired a box of the hollow-point loads each in a Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm and CZ 75 B. The loads functioned as expected—excellently. However, the powder burn was unusually clean. I sat at the bench and registered a 1.8-inch, 5-shot group with the super-accurate CZ 75 B.
Control was never an issue, and both loads cut one ragged hole in the target, each centered on the same aiming point.
Those loads are each in 130-grain; the Train version is a flat-topped FMJ and the Defend, a JHP. In that version, I cheated because I used a handgun I wanted to test for absolute accuracy.
The Colt Officer’s Model 6-inch .38 was the top target .38 of the day. Sitting down for a group, I fired a box of the Train version from the bench. The tight old Colt delivered a 1.5-inch, 25-yard group. That type of accuracy is not demanded of a training load but, just the same, it is nice to know the 130-grain FMJ is accurate enough for competition and hunting.
I fired five rounds of the JHP with similar results and a number of the JHP loads in my backup Smith and Wesson 442 with good results. There was no point in bench-resting that one because I am not that sure and steady with a 2-inch .38.
The J frame, in common with most 2-inch 5-shot .38s, fires a bit low at 15 yards. Both the Train and Defend loads struck to the same point of aim. Those are not high-velocity loads. The 130-grain Defend clocked 809 fps from the 6-inch Colt and just more than 750 fps from the Smith and Wesson.
As I said, they are controllable loads, accurate and clean burning. They serve a real need, and the quality is all Winchester.
Have you used the new Winchester Train and Load in your favorite handgun? What were your results? Share your thoughts in the comments section.