Speer’s introduced a new version of their legendary Gold Dot ammunition. Called Gold Dot G2, and subtitled “Next Generation”, it’s a revision to their long-time fan favorite and police ammo staple, the Gold Dot. This particular ammo is the 9mm, 147 grain flavor. What’s new? Well, the most obvious change is that the ammo’s hollowpoint cavity is now plugged with an elastomer tip, similar to the polymer tip employed by Hornady in their Critical DutyTM and Critical DefenseTM lines of ammo. In Speer’s own words . . .
The G2 Upgrade for Gold Dot® features a bullet design that excels in the FBI protocol for law enforcement ammunition. Its shallow, dish shaped nose contour is filled with elastomer to provide rapid expansion where needed and minimize over-penetration where it’s not. Gold Dot G2’s Uni-Cor construction molecularly bonds the copper jacket to the alloyed lead core, virtually eliminating separations.
Okay, sounds good. It’s marketing-speak, but … hey, it’s their box, they can print what they want on it. I’m more interested in what the ammo does, rather than in what they say it does. And speaking of saying, I’ve heard a couple of rumors about the G2 ammo, namely:
- It is a merging of the HST and Gold Dot lines; taking the best features from each (and, apparently, throwing in the polymer tip from the Hornady line for good measure).
- This ammo was developed specifically for the FBI, to pass the FBI protocols and to become the new FBI duty ammunition when the FBI transitions from .40 S&W over to 9mm.
Are those rumors true? No clue — I guess we’ll find out. But it sure gives one fuel for optimism (the best features of the Federal HST, Gold Dot, and Critical Duty, all rolled into one?) Or, it gives one fuel for pessimism (as in…you ever hear the old line about how a camel is a horse designed by a committee? You know, let’s throw everything in there, it’ll be great! Er… and that’s how they ended up with a camel).
So, it could be great. I hope it’s great. It’s from Speer, for cryin’ out loud. They have one of the best reputations in the industry. They wouldn’t tarnish that, would they? They rule the roost. They’re at the top of their game. And they’re introducing a brand-new product. Wait, that sounds like…doesn’t that sound familiar? Have we seen this before?
Anyone remember New Coke?
Okay, so — I’m not saying that Gold Dot G2 is “New Coke”, I’m just saying — successful companies typically dance with the one that brung ’em, and introducing a brand new line like this is risky. It’d better be good.
So, is it good? To find out, I decided to test from three different pistols. I conducted my normal 3″-barrel Ammo Quest testing, but I also included a 4″-barrel Springfield XD Service, and the 6″-barrel GLOCK 21 from my FrankenGLOCK project. I figured that this ammo might really appeal to a lot of people, so I wanted to test from a wide spectrum to see how it performs overall.
Good thing I did, too, because the test results from the 3″ barrel were abysmal. Through denim, the Gold Dot G2’s totally failed to expand (so much for the vaunted elastomer tip). Through bare gel, the bullets only partially expanded, and actually sheared off several of the petals. It was awful.
From the 4″ barrel, the denim bullet again failed to expand. Really? How do you make a bullet that won’t expand from the GLOCK 19, one of the most common 9mm handguns around? But fail it did. Through bare gel, the 4″ barrel bullet did great, expanding properly and penetrating deeply.
From the 6″ barrel, we had excellent performance. Deep penetration and proper expansion. Although, I must say, the bare gel bullet’s petals looked a little stressed, like as if they were being pushed to their limits and were considering perhaps shearing off. But they didn’t, and the end result was two great-looking, deep-penetrating bullets.
After the initial testing, I was fairly steamed. It bothers me (more than it probably should) when companies over-market their products and make claims that just don’t hold up empirically. The results from the 3″ pistol were awful, and the 4″ pistol results were unacceptable. Seriously, considering that we’ve had tremendous performance from the 3″ pistol with Speer’s own Short Barrel Gold Dot and Gold Dot 124+P, not to mention the entire HST series, and the Winchester Train & Defend and Ranger-T, was it really too much to ask to see the Gold Dot G2 be at least on par with those?
Apparently it was.
Tennessee-based ammo tester tnoutdoors9 posted his review of Gold Dot G2 from a GLOCK 19 and got similar results. The internet lit up when he posted his review, with people saying that Speer had blown it, that the FBI had ruined it, that government intervention has gone and ruined a good thing. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But…something about that bothers me. Did they really? Why would a company like Speer, with such a sterling reputation, go and produce a product that performs like this?
I decided to wait to publish my tests for a while so I could ruminate on this. And I think I now understand a way wherein it all makes sense: this ammo is not made for the self defense community. It’s not for us at all.
Seriously. It says so, right on the box. In the right top corner, it says “LAW ENFORCEMENT” and down the right side of the box it says “DUTY AMMUNITION”. It’s telling us, right there, who this was made for and what purpose it is to be put to.
It is my opinion (well, speculation) that it was never intended to be used in the kind of guns average gun owners use. Let’s go back to rumor #2, “Speer developed this specifically for the FBI to be its new duty ammunition.” If that’s true, let me point out that the FBI isn’t going to issue its agents 3″ pocket pistols. And it’s unlikely that they will be issued 4″-barrel GLOCK 19’s, right?
They will be issued full-size duty guns, like a 4.6″-barrel GLOCK 17, a 4.7″-barrel Beretta 92, or maybe even something like a GLOCK 17L with its 5.34″ barrel. And, to be fair, the Gold Dot G2 ammo performed excellently in my testing from the longest-barrel pistol I tried it from. And the shorter the barrel I tested from, the worse it performed. So there is a possibility that Speer tailored this ammo specifically for a full-size, long-barreled pistol, and intends it to be used only from such a pistol.
Of course, it sure would have been nice for them to print that on the box. But since they don’t tell you, I guess that job falls to us. In any case, now you know.
So, yeah, I’m going with that — I think Speer knows exactly who their customer is for this product, and they tailored the round very specifically for that customer. They didn’t bother making it perform well from a compact or subcompact pistol because their customer would likely never use such a weapon. And those of us who don’t EDC a GLOCK 17L might want to look for other rounds to use in our personal defense weapons (such as HST, or standard Gold Dots).
In my opinion, my (and tnoutdoors9’s) testing show that this Gold Dot G2 ammo is simply unsuitable for use in a compact or subcompact pistol, especially when compared with the competition. Stick with a full-size pistol, and the Gold Dot G2 starts making a lot more sense.
So now I guess we just have to see if the FBI issues long-barreled guns to their agents. If they do, then I think this is a totally reasonable alternative. But if the FBI issues 4″ or shorter barrels, then none of this makes sense.
In any case, my recommendation is that the Gold Dot G2 isn’t the round you’re looking for if you carry a compact or subcompact pistol with a barrel of 4″ or less.