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By Brandon via concealednation.org

A reader sent us a photo of his Hornady Z-Max ammo (Zombie ammo, for those nights when the pesky zombies want to get in your home) and posted the following question: “Okay I gotta ask this question. The Hornady Z-Max ammo has a disclaimer on it that says for use on Zombies only and not on humans, plants, animals, or minerals only zombies. My question to you is with our brain dead, political correct, judicial system would this be able to be used as hinderance and prosecuting grounds against a victim (homeowner) in a self defense situation? No joke just a little something to twist your mind tonight.” . . .

Here is the actual disclaimer taken from their website, in case you don’t believe him:

ScreenHunter_509 Apr. 25 22.21

What a weird question, but it’s completely valid. While I can’t think of a case where something like this has happened, a prosecutor can certainly make something out of this, regardless of the fact that the ammo tip is simply a different color. They can make something out of anything they want, really.

What do you think? Could this cause a problem in a self-defense situation?

My personal recommendation: buy some normal self-defense ammo that’s not sold as a gimmick and use that in your self-defense firearm. There…potential problem solved.

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94 Responses to Question of the Day: Could Your Ammo Give Your Problems in Court?

  1. In anhy high profile self defense case like Zimmerman was ammo ever a talking point? I think most antis are too ignorant to tell one hollow point from another

    • Yeah, except when it’s bright green and says Zombie all over it.

      I could easily see that crossing a line for many jurors in to thinking you believe shooting people is something to be glib about.

      I personally wouldn’t worry about carrying any other brand of HP ammo because any competent lawyer (and there’s the potential rub) would be able to explain to a jury that HP ammo is actually carried out of concern about over-penetration and endangering the innocent (etc etc all the stuff we already know), but if a prosecutor showed that you killed a man with a joke… well, I could see that going badly for you.

    • Those idiot prosecutors went after Zimmerman for having a round in the chamber. If the prosecution wants to go after you, they are going to make up and exaggerate what ever they want.

    • I wouldn’t even use a gun case or glock back plate with a skull on it. I was in a shop the other day and saw a canvas AR case with a skull on the side and my thought process was “Man, that is a nice case but I wouldn’t want to have to explain that to a jury after some overzealous prosecutor starts in on my ‘obcession with death’ or whatever”. I will pass on the novelty ammo and gear.

  2. Stand firm to your story:

    The dead perp WAS a zombie, and a zombie that claimed to be attacking you not just for your brains, but at the behest of the prosecuting jurisdiction.

  3. I would never load my personal/home defense firearm with ammunition that had a name like “zombie killer” or “R.I.P.,” nor any ammunition with lurid marketing claims.

    I would be hesitant to use even varmint ammo (in, say, a .22wmr handgun or an AR rifle) with names like “TNT” or “varmint grenade” or any advertising with prairie dogs evaporating into red mist. I’m probably thinking too hard, but it seems like an unnecessary complication with no upside.

    I would expect that anything like this is more likely to come up in the civil case against me, rather than the criminal–and not so much be used to prove intent as negligence. I agree that this may be silly–but there is a big potential payout in the liability and that will draw the argument that the shooter didn’t know what he was doing or was behaving irresponsibly when he loaded his firearm with these super-deadly killer bullets that were intended for use on people.

    I would much prefer for my counsel to say “This is the same ammunition the local sheriff’s department trusts to protect its officers.” …though, these days a jury might not assume the local police aren’t cold blooded killers.

  4. Like Randy says, buy Federal Lawman HST or similar. If a persecuting attorney tries it make an issue of it, a defense attorney should be able to embarrass him thoroughly.

    • I doubt they’ll be embarrassed by that one moment. They’ll just change tact to say you used that particular ammo because you are a lawman wannabe and vigilante.

    • What? No. Speer Lawman? Isn’t that obvious that it’s ONLY to be used by highly trained elite police officers? I think using Speer Lawman would basically be saying “I want to take the law into my own hands.”; you’re using ammo that should only be available to our POLICE AND MILITARY! And shouldn’t be on the STREETS!

      No, what we need are generic white boxes of 10 simply labeled “.9MM COMMON SENSE BULLETS – GREAT FOR YOUR 10 ROUND ‘CLIP’.'”

      *Not for use in assault pistols.

      Stay away from “Double Tap” if you plan to shoot till the threat is stopped. “Buffalo Bore”? Who are you, Bill Cody? “Ranger” may be ambiguous enough though? But, quite obviously, your kitchen ain’t no forest.

      I’ll stick with PMC Starfire. It sounds pretty.

      Sorry for the cynicism. I have a case of the Mondays.

      • Several LEo that I know suggested to me that the ammunition in my EDC should be something with “defense” in the name for just this reason. This way it gives any prosecutor limited wiggle room to make hay in the courtroom. Similarly, they suggested that a home defense firearm either be a handgun, but not one with a tacticool name like some of the sig 1911s, or a shotgun, preferably one with a wood stock and engraving. Supposedly juries are much more willing to accept a handgun as a defensive tool, similiarly a shotgun. The wood and engraving give them the impression that you grabbed a hunting gun to protect yourself, and weren’t eagerly awaiting an opportunity to off someone with your evil black rifle with the 30 caliber clip.

      • “Sorry for the cynicism.”

        Don’t be. I like the way you think… 🙂

        “I have a case of the Mondays.”

        Hang in there… Scratch a cat behind the ears…

      • Speer Lawman is not a suitable self defense round but I have the same concern for their LE versus personal protection lines. It is the exact same cartridge and ballistics, But the LE comes in 50 round boxes and the Personal Protection comes in 20 round boxes. I buy the LE cause I can get it cheaper per round and am ready to explain that in court if it would come up as an issue. It is stupid to have to worry about such things but that is the legal world we live in.

  5. With increasing regularity, we are being told “it is your lot in life to be a victim, so learn to like it”. Over the weekend, the Mayor of Baltimore instructed the Baltimore PD to “provide the rioters ‘space’ to destroy” private and municipal property. The inmates are in charge of the asylum. So, yes, if you dare to do anything, esp. use a handgun, in an attempt to defend yourself you will be prosecuted and the idiot verbiage on the ammo box will be a problem.

    • “it is your lot in life to be a victim, so learn to like it”.

      Or go into politics or media, we are free to protect ourselves, but no one else is.

  6. Could Your Ammo Give Your Problems in Court? Yes, if the ammo isn’t legal, such as carrying HP ammo in states where that’s prohibited. Otherwise, if the shooting is justified, using “Zombie” ammo shouldn’t matter.

    My personal ammo choice is “Fluffy Bunny,” because even the most hard-hearted prosecutor loves fluffy bunnies. My second favorite is Hornady Critical Defense because defense would be my narrative.

    • I’ve read quite a bit of Mas Ayoob’s writings. He does make the claim that an unscrupulous prosecutor could use the type of ammunition to create the appearance of intent (OMG over-powered rounds; the defendant really wanted to kill somebody dead!) or negligence (such as with reloads). Same thing with trigger jobs, and other modifications (removing a magazine disconnect, for example).

      I would assume, though, that a competent expert witness can dispel all such attempts. Assuming, of course, that the defendant can afford such a competent expert witness.

      For my level of risk-aversion, the fewer assumptions I potentially have to make, the better.

      • “I’ve read quite a bit of Mas Ayoob’s writings. He does make the claim that an unscrupulous prosecutor could use the type of ammunition to create the appearance of intent”

        Until there is a case presented where the DGU shooter is prosecuted by his ammo choice alone, Mr. Ayoob is spreading FUD. He is a competent instructor, but like many, he presents his opinion as fact far too often.

        • From what I’ve read, Mas has been an expert witness in many defensive use of firearms cases. In these cases his opinion is taken close to fact in a court of law.
          When he offered those opinions laid out above, he spoke from his experiences as an expert witness and also other cases where he may not have testified, but was involved as a consultant.
          He isn’t spreading FUDD. He’s offering sound advice. While your choice of ammo shouldn’t mean a damn thing in a DGU situation, if you are tried, it will be in front of a jury that may have limited, if any, knowledge of firearms. The prosecutor will use every opportunity to paint you as a cold blooded murderer filled with malice and forethought. Anything you can do do to limit them portraying you Ina negative light will be to your advantage.

        • @Rambeast: +1. Nonsense like this has gone around endlessly and not just about choice of ammunition. Just because someone like Ayoob has opined about it, some think it’s gospel.

  7. “normal defense ammo” tends to be hollow point. I’ve read many cases where they like to act like you are using ‘dum dum’ bullets and are bloodthirsty if you do. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Pick your poison.

    • Grew up in NJ. “Hollow points” were always mythical evil unicorns there. I remember a friend of mine got his hands on a hollow point round in 4th grade. We went and ‘looked at it during recess’. One single 9mm round.

      I look back on that so strangely now, on how anyone could feel that way — but in some parts of the country, the stigma is strong. (NJ especially is very very weird about hollow points.)

      • “I look back on that so strangely now, on how anyone could feel that way — but in some parts of the country, the stigma is strong. (NJ especially is very very weird about hollow points.)”

        Glad you escaped. I was only there for 4 years, so the effect wasn’t permanent.

        The way you wrote that leads me to think it was North Jersey for you… It’s a different planet up there.

        Guns were quite normal in South Jersey. (Relatively speaking)

        • Yup you hit the nail on the head; northern Somerset County. There are some things I miss (like east coast springtime; out here in Colorado it was still snowing yesterday.) but not the laws.

          That said, my folks always had a rifle in the coat closet – zipped up in a tan case. I remember that being a fixture and it never really fazed me. I remember one night when I was very young, when my father was away on a business trip and some criminal was seen running around town, sitting in the living room watching TV my mother had the rifle on her lap.

          Any stigma I had back then came from outside sources. Even now when I hear “gun control” it takes me back to “social studies” class in the early 80’s.

  8. I pine for the days when this question would be a knee-slapper, but I fear we are no longer there…I use military-type FMJ because a) it’s what is most available and b) I want to get good penetration from my relatively underpowered caliber. I expect a prosecutor could try to make hay out of the “military” aspect, even as the same prosecutor would try to make hay out of HPs.

  9. I would rather not give a prosecutor or attorney any “ammo” to use against me in a court room, whether it be a civil or a legal case. It only takes one liberal anti-gun lawyer to open up a box of craziness.

  10. If you’re worried just shoot ball ammo. Killing millions since the 1900’s. Because the first rule is have a gun…

  11. You could counter argue that criminals are brain dead predators with very little on their mind other than killing and terrorizing the general population. Heck, some of them are even so hopped up on drugs they try to eat their victims. Sounds like the ammo is appropriate to me.

  12. Silly, but here goes. In the past few years, some bath salt attackers have been found to go completely psycho, biting off peoples faces and killing people in a cannibalistic, mindless rage. The media, being the definition source for liberals, has defined these bath salt psychos as ‘zombies’, even calling them ‘real life zombies’ and ‘zombie attackers’. It stands to reason a liberal judge would classify zombie ammo as appropriately used against bath salt zombie attacks.

    • “some bath salt attackers have been found to go completely psycho, biting off peoples faces and killing people in a cannibalistic, mindless rage.”

      Nope, see my reply to Chris above. The guy attacked survived, but was blinded. The attacker wasn’t on ‘Bath Salts’…

      • No drug expert, but last I heard “bath salts” covers just about any combination of ingredients, most often sold with large print telling purchasers it is not for human consumption. What and how, pray tell, did somebody test for prior to deciding he was not under the influence of bath salts? I subject that whoever said that doesn’t have any evidence to back it up. As in, “says who?”

  13. How about ammo marked LE? Might portray you as a wanna be cop. Far fetched? A NJ judge blocked a guy’s 2A rights because he was merely accused of DV tears ago.

    • Same thing with Critical Duty. I carry it in winter for better penetration as the savages tend to wear layers. If it really was ONLY for LE, then we wouldn’t be able to just waltz into Dunham’s and pick up a box.

      • Just tell ’em you’re not a very good reader, and thought it was “Critical Doody”. Which you bought because you expected to only have to use it when the shit hit the fan.

  14. I agree that this is simply something you don’t want to “hand” to the prosecution as a way to vilify you as a defensive shooter. It just isn’t worth the risk. There are plenty of people sitting in jail who perhaps shouldn’t be, and of course plenty who should be and are out walking free. The justice system isn’t always just. Be able to make an argument like this. “This ammunition is what was recommended to me by my training instructor as my self-defense ammunition.” It will be hard to vilify you over that argument. Also, I like the Train and Defend marketed ammunition for the same reason. Look, I use them in my training, and also as my self defense round. Make it be heard that you are actually training with your handgun, and using ammunition that indicates “defense”. Your lawyer will thank you.

    ~cj

    • Be able to make an argument like this. “This ammunition is what was recommended to me by my training instructor as my self-defense ammunition.”

      Yes, but as the defendant, you personally will not make that argument unless you elect to testify and volunteer to get twisted up like a pretzel on cross examination. You will need someone else to testify for you, as George Zimmerman did.

  15. In your carry gun use either what the FBI does, your State Police do or the ammo carried by a.local police department. In my Metro area there are over 40 police agencies. So lots of choice. Why give the prosecutor another hook to hang you on?
    Criminal defense lawyer.

  16. You shouldn’t use Z-Max because it is the same thing, but usually costs more than, Critical Defense (which from the shooting the bull tests isn’t that great of a round to begin with) all because it has a shiny package.

    If your shoot is questionable enough to begin with that it gets to a jury where the finer discussion of ammo choice is weighted enough that it threatens the overall case, you did something wrong.

  17. Who knows what’s gonna cause issues in court, I say use the Zombie crap as practice ammo for Critical Defense that you would load as an SD round and be done with it.

  18. Critical defense – because it has nice soft rubber tips not a mean looking hollow point. It’s the thought that counts right?

    • Yes, it is the thought that counts. Particularly the thought of the prosecutor and the jury.

      The Hornady green tip ammo is an excellent round but it has an unfortunate name. Hornady makes an identical round except that it has a red tip and a far, far better name. If you live in Florida then there are probably better bullets available. For a cold climate the rubber tipped bullets are a good choice.

      While I don’t like everything Ayoob says he makes his living as an expert witness in self defense shootings. He is quite clear that his recommendations are what he wants you to do so that his job is easier. I have read articles by others that also act as experts in that area and they are all pretty consistent. I’ll take the advice of the professionals on this one. Read Gila Hayes, read Marty Hayes, but start with Massad Ayoob and if you read only one book let it be “In the Gravest Extreme”.

      So, for me, no ammo or firearms with aggressive or threatening names, no clothing or bumper stickers that have anything associated with firearms or self defense, and nothing like a replacement barrel engraved with “Smile and Wait for the Flash”.

      First you need to survive the fight then you need to survive the legal system.

  19. I predict eventually somebody will sue an ammo manufacturer after which ALL ammo will be labeled not for use on humans. As stupid as this sounds, anybody want to bet against it?

    • Seems unlikely, at least as long as ammo makers are protected by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

  20. Your ammo and carry gun should both be as generic as possible. Ammo should have “defense” in the name. Gun? No skulls, or other “sinister” embellishments, fancy grips, aftermarket slide finishes. In short, don’t give a persecutor, or the news media, anything to grab onto.

  21. Carry what your local police carry. If the ammo is questioned tell the persecutor [intentional] that you looked to the police as an informed source as what to carry. Tell them that for more information he’ll have to to ask his buddies in the the department why they choose the ammo they did.

    The prosecutor won’t put his buddies on the stand and your ammo will become a non-issue.

    O2

      • Why not use hollow points in, say, NJ?

        I’d love to see that statute tested in a court of law. (or even a court of New Jersey)

        • Or as many rounds of 9mm as you possibly can… Funny, can’t have HP’s in NJ, but you can carry a 15 round mag.

  22. If you look at the specs, Zombie Max is essentially Hornady Critical Defense but with a green plastic flex tip instead of a red one and regular brass cases instead of nickeled. As Mike alluded to above, it makes great ammo to check the fit and function of Critical Defense in your gun of choice, and it costs significantly less per box than Critical Defense.

  23. I really wish that people would stop spreading needless paranoia.

    First, some stats.
    Do you know how many instances of defensive firearm use end up in the person actually getting convicted?
    3%
    That’s right, 3%
    This is in gun-hating Calfornia. This also includes some very dubious cases (as in “home defense” is actually a drug deal gone bad, etc, etc).

    Theoretically, the prosecutor can prosecute you for defending yourself with a plastic fork if he or she so desires. Theoretically you could also be killed by a meteorite tomorrow.

    • “Do you know how many instances of defensive firearm use end up in the person actually getting convicted?
      3%
      That’s right, 3%
      This is in gun-hating Calfornia.”

      Got a link on that, please?

      BTW- 12:31 AM, Baltimore is burning…

  24. I adhere to the advice of ‘never use your reloads in your carry gun’. Prosecutors can, and will, make the point that you loaded that round specifically to shoot the perp.

    • So you come home and a thug is just about ready to jump on your wife, all you have is a pistol with your reloads in…and your NOT gonna shoot because all you have are reloads?? Really?? If your kid has a baseball bat that is called the “Slayer”, you won’t use it to defend yourself if that’s all you have?? Cmon…if you are a knife maker, and all you can grab is one of your knives during a violent home invasion, you won’t use it to save your family because “you” made it? Bottom line folks, its either gonna be a good shoot, or a bad shoot. I make my own reloads for self defense using xtp’s or seirra HP. Not afraid at all.

  25. “They can make something out of anything they want, really.”

    Exactly, so can we please stop having this stupid conversation already? Clear-cut and indisputable cases of home and/or self defense rarely involve the defender facing charges to begin with, so a good shoot is unlikely to even go to trial. If you’re that terrified of D.A. Rain Man nailing you to the wall over the color of the plug in your bullets or what’s stamped on the backplate on your Glock, then just get a baseball bat and whistle and be done with it.

  26. “Far better to be held by twelve honest men, than carried by six”

    That being said……the choice of defense ammunition should be based upon the ballistics and wound-cavity creation of the round, as opposed to the “name” on the ammunition. A decent defense attorney can turn any slurs made by the prosecution back upon them, making them look like fools in front of the jury.

    And I am a retired police officer AND attorney.

    • “Far better to be held by twelve honest men, than carried by six”

      Yes, but you’re going to be tried by twelve people who were too stupid to get out of jury duty, and 3/4 of them will be women who think that “Real Housewives” is a news program.

    • “And I am a retired police officer AND attorney.”

      And you have that kind of confidence in the citizens who actually end up in the jury box?

      Ralph’s observation pretty much nailed it.

  27. If I were in a DGU I would be more concerned with the prosecution proving that I read TTAG everyday than what I actually load my gun with. Just sayin.

  28. In any self defense trial (civil or criminal), you want to give yourself any advantage that doesn’t increase your risk of getting killed. While it shouldn’t matter, names matter.

    1) instead of a Black Talon, the Defender bullet sounds better to that lady on the jury that knows nothing about guns.
    2) instead of a 357 Magnum, a .40 S&W might be nice
    3) if the cops in your town carry Glocks/Sigs/S&W, do you really want to be sporting a Desert Eagle.

  29. To me, the real question is,
    Why the hell did Hornady put that disclaimer on the box in the first place??

  30. I’m wondering why anyone would shoot Zombie Max? I have only one box that I keep as a conversation piece… Oh, and to kill zombies, if it ever comes to that…

  31. I don’t think zombie killing markings will get you in trouble. However, if you were to use the ammo dipped in pig fat (forget it’s name), it might be used as evidence if you shot a Muslim man. Then it might be argued that the shooter was looking to kill a Muslim and therefore what might be a case of self defense could become sticky case of possible hate crime. Same if the ammo said it was for killing Asians, African Americans etc.

  32. It seems that worry like this spreads on gun forums every year. Could it be brought up in court? Sure. Would it really matter absent anything else to go along with it? Nope.

    Don’t worry and carry on.

  33. Living in Canada where armed self defense is essentially illegal, especially with a firearm, I would expect to be charged under the criminal code were I to shoot, say, an armed home invader. Regardless of the circumstances. And I think just owning “defense” oriented ammo could land me in worse trouble after the fact

    As an example: I have a bunch of standard, cheap, jacketed .45 ACP that I use to target shoot. I also have a single box of Hornady Critical Defense, for the heck of it. I’ve never even fired any of it: ~$1.60 a round is pretty steep for punching paper. But I would expect the prosecutor to point to it as evidence that I had planned ahead to use my gun for self defense (a mark against me) even if I actually loaded and shot with the cheap target stuff.

    Now, I’d probably go to my 12 gauge first, but having attended a couple of “tactical shotgun operator” courses for fun would also cause me trouble there.

    But, all those problems would also be the result of having survived the experience, sooo…

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