Ammo Review: Black Hills 9mm HoneyBadger 100gr +P

A couple of weeks back Black Hills surprised me with their new HoneyBadger 9mm 100gr +P. I was curious when I opened the boxes, as I discovered a radical and aggressively different bullet design.

Background
As you probably know by now, a Honey Badger is a highly aggressive little beast. It is, by all accounts, one of the most fearsome critters in the world as well as one of the most clever and destructive. A member of the weasel family, the Honey Badger is a go-getter, capable of digging in or climbing almost anything to get what it wants.

So how does that relate to this new ammo? Well, like its namesake, the Black Hills HoneyBadger line is short of reasons to care about barriers, expansion, and recoil.

Accuracy and Basic Performance
I fired the HoneyBadger 100gr +P in a SIG SAUER P320 Compact for my testing. This is a great pistol and is very, very accurate with all the ammo I’ve fired with it. It’s almost the same gun that the Army is beginning to issue as the XM18, which is the compact version of the M17 MHS.

The load features an intimidating bullet which is a non-expanding solid. The bullet has four flanges with serrations that are designed for tissue displacement. The case is standard brass and it’s crimped slightly into one of the grooves on the bullet. The primer features red sealant for weatherproofing.

I tested the load for accuracy and velocity and achieved great results. Accuracy was nothing short of stellar. At 15 yards I fired five-shot groups from a standing position that came in at less than an inch. This translated to groups that measured an impressive 1.75-2” off the bench at 25 yards. It was next to impossible to miss a 10” steel plate at any distance under 50 yards.

Listed velocity from Black Hills is 1,300fps. The tested load reached just under this at 1225fps over my Oehler 35P chronograph for an average of 10 shots.

I experienced no failures to feed or eject when using this ammo. It allowed fast follow-up shots and rapid recovery.

Ballistic Performance
For this test I used a 10% FBI block from Clear Ballistics. Due to the accuracy I was able to achieve with the P320, I tested the load at a distance of 10 feet and out to 25 yards.

Over-penetration at close range is a distinct possibility. At close range in bare gel it passed completely through the gel block while delivering fantastic terminal performance all the way through. At ranges past ten yards it penetrated to a depth of 15-16” depending on barriers, and I recovered several.

What was most interesting is that this performance didn’t change much if at all when firing through almost anything. T-shirt fabric had no effect on the bullets at any range. Heavy denim and leather induced tumbling about half the time, which reduced penetration depth to 12-14”.

Barriers were very interesting as I noticed that the bullets deflected and yawed much more, but they generally didn’t tumble as much as the ones that went through heavy fabric. Side by side, you can’t really even tell what the difference between a bullet that went through a 2×4 or a piece of fabric.

Wounding Capacity
This bullet is a hard one to stop, much like its namesake. It always seems to get its penetrating depth, even if that means first passing through wood, fabric, or thick wall materials. The interesting part is that the bullets had the same effect on the gel even after passing through these barriers. The science is in the shape of the projectile.

Wound channels were typically 15-16” long and featured permanent damage at a depth of 5-10”. Permanent cavities displayed significant tearing and were wider than most hollowpoints. The most dramatic thing was the damage done by temporary cavitation. The fluid action that the bullet imparts on the tissue causes sudden and surprising expansion, which can deliver even more damage than a traditional hollowpoint.

I didn’t believe this until I tried it and it’s a fantastic trait of this ammo. Bottom line is this: if you can hit your target, the bullet will do the job.

You won’t have to worry about clogging or bullet failure because the spin is where the magic is and the gel told that story with every hit.

Overall Impressions
The 9mm 100gr +P HoneyBadger is an incredible new design. Today’s advancements in bullet technology have given us surprising new levels of function and performance. This load demonstrates that you can have deep, lethal penetration with low recoil and high accuracy.

The fact that this bullet doesn’t rely on expansion is key to its effectiveness at any range a defensive handgun will be used. The radical appearance translates to function in that it can go through a 2×4 without clogging and then still deliver lethal tissue expansion. It’s the shape of the bullet that does the work, not the mechanical action of a traditional hollowpoint.

Price wasn’t listed for this load on the Black Hills site at the time of this writing, but I expect it to be in the same range as the rest of the HoneyBadger line.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
This load was very, very accurate. It just wanted to shoot tiny groups.

Handling: * * * * *
Recoil was low, not snappy at all. The noise and muzzleblast was a bit sharper than most 9mm loads, but that’s to be expected in a supersonic +P load?

Reliability: * * * * *
It fed reliably throughout the course of my testing.

Terminal Performance: * * * * 
This Honey Badger don’t care what it has to go through to get a tissue scramble. The results I got were fantastic and it delivered solid performance in my test circumstances. Over-penetration is a factor at close ranges.

Overall: * * * * 
Despite its aggressive appearance, this is a honey of a cartridge. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in a carry gun. I think Black Hills has a winner here and it is a welcome departure from the carry ammo norm.

comments

  1. avatar Patrick says:

    Looks like a ripoff of the Lehigh Defense “Xtreme Defense” bullets. Provide credit where it’s due.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      Yeah, not that there is anything wrong with that. Just skip the incredible new design part.

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        In addition to a knock off of the ASP; Charles Kelsey made bullets like this in the 1980s.

        1. avatar Art out West says:

          I’m curious about this bullet design out of a 38sp and or .380.

          It might work for pocket guns.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          Art: the Lehigh in .380 was an all time high performer for Shooting the Bull. He thought it was perfect in every way.

    2. avatar skoon says:

      Seems more like a rip off of polycase interceptor aka ruger arx ammo with the flutes and light for caliber performance

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        The ARX is a polymer-copper matrix. The Lehigh bullet are solid copper. They will increase barrel wear. I have ordered some xtreme penetrators in 45 and 10mm for bear defense. These rounds will penetrate 24+” of balistic gel. Either caliber will penetrate a grizzly skull.

        1. avatar Jean-Claude says:

          Considering how much these cost, barrel wear is likely not going to be a concern. The majority of purchasers will likely shoot half a box, load their carry pistol’s magazine, and then never shoot it again.

          A few people will shoot their carry ammo once a year, then buy a new box and start the cycle over again.

      2. avatar No one of consequence says:

        Which is a rip-off of the Lehigh main design feature, if not the manufacturing technique (for which I salute Polycase).

    3. avatar PJ says:

      This wasn’t a ripoff of Lehigh’s bullet design. They look identical for a reason; this was a collaboration between the 2 companies. There are tons of articles about this ammo line published by other gun sites:

      https://www.personaldefenseworld.com/2017/02/black-hills-honeybadger/

    4. avatar Mark says:

      Is the bullet shape the exact same? My Walther PPQ doesn’t like the Lehigh round much which was a shame. I’d like to give these a try if the shape is a bit different. Otherwise I carry Hornady Critical Duty which is also an awesome round.

      1. avatar Brad says:

        I use Underwoods and have no problems in my Q M2.

    5. avatar lou koestner says:

      It’s not a ripoff. Black Hills states in their advertisement that they are getting the bullets from Lehigh.

  2. avatar LarryinTX says:

    So, is there some notable difference between this and Lehigh ammo?

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      In appearance, a noticeable difference. Go look at a pic on the Lehigh site. In performance, probably not so much. Neither deforms, both have bullets light for caliber (although Lehigh does make full weight bullets), and both have ample penetration. Lehigh makes an Xtreme Penetrator that will,according to one tester, massively overpenetrate in 9 mm, as well as an Xtreme Defender which has less power and performs within the FBI spec.

  3. avatar Texican says:

    They are Lehigh bullets. Black Hills only has this one load whereas Underwood has multiple loads. I like the Underwood options espicially the 65 grain going around 1800 (!) fps.

  4. avatar Sich says:

    I prefer the 960 Rowland (9×23), w/115-grains @ ~1,600ft/sec and ~650ft/lbs…

  5. avatar Brainman says:

    This confirms what I’ve always heard: The honey badger doesn’t give a sh1t.

  6. avatar slimjim9 says:

    And I’m struggling to see how “Over-penetration is a factor at close ranges” and “wouldn’t hesitate to use it in a carry gun” agree with each other. ???

    1. avatar Chadwick says:

      Might have something to do with his block not having bones.

      1. avatar Mattster says:

        No bones in the block, but the article notes that barriers such as 2×4’s had no impact on penetration. I would think over penetration would be a significant risk, but perhaps the author is in a rural area where this is less of an issue?

  7. avatar Papashvilli says:

    Lehigh Defense? Nah, Charles Kelsey of Devel Custom.

    Google 9mm Devel and you’ll see that this is nothing new, just a clever spin on an old design.

    People seem to have forgotten this guy and what he was working on at the time of his death.

    http://www.fullaventura.com/municiones/municion-devel_0_442.php

    https://patents.google.com/patent/US5116224A/en

    https://patents.justia.com/patent/5116224

    I would say patent infringement on Lehigh and Black Hills but Charles has been gone since 2003.

    Remember, it isn’t new, just reinvented.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Uhhh…OK. It’s good ammo AND it doubles as a screwdriver!😄Sorry but I’m invested in Sig. $5 off a box at my lgs…but a good review nevertheless.

    1. avatar frijoli says:

      And the SIG’s do not perform as well as many other brands. Federal HST all the way.

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        HST is what I carry in all my 9s, but in the rare occasion I need to carry my LCP, this design in .380 is intriguing.

      2. avatar FoxCarry says:

        Agreed on the Sig ammo performance. I primarily carry Sig pistols and prefer them to all of my others. It’s ironic that the Sig defensive ammo performs so poorly in them compared to several other brands. I carry professionally, and I test at least 1,000 rounds of any defensive brand prior to a thumbs up or down for each pistol I rely on. At least in my pistols, the Sig performs the worst.

      3. avatar Rswartze says:

        Maybe because Taurus, but Xtreme Penetrator doesn’t feed well in my TCP .380 or I would carry it. I haven’t tried Polycase, but it does have the rounder nose.

  9. avatar the ghost of ironicatbest says:

    Ironicatbest would say:” Honey Badger versus Wolverine,. Whose the badass now huh?”

  10. avatar Guest says:

    Temproary cavity damage isnt increased over a normal hollowpoint. It’s the same, which is to say, irrelevant at the velocities it impacts with.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Also, the permanent cavity is smaller because there is no expansion. The total volume of the cavities may be comparable because of deeper penetration, but overpenetration doesn’t provide additional useful wounding unless it’s for critters instead of creeps.

  11. avatar MIO says:

    “Tested” but killed nothing or no one. Zzzz
    Gimmick ammo

  12. avatar Walrus Gumboot says:

    I might load my edc with this arguably effective ammo when the police start using it. My fascination with radical bullet design named for vicious animals ends when I imagine the prosecutor shouting it again and again to the ignorant jury as I am in court for defensive use of that edc.

  13. avatar mark s. says:

    I know a lot of folks shy away from candy caning their mags , but this to me seem a perfect companion to Hornady’s Critical defense FTX load . I think I’ll give it a whirl .

  14. avatar raptor jesus says:

    Looks great in gel. How does it do in people?

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