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I heart Hornady. I carry Critical DEFENSE. ‘So when the ammunition maker unveiled their new high tech Critical DUTY cartridge I was . . . confused. Not to be critical, but why two Criticals? Surely someone at Hornady considered the possibility that bullet buyers would be baffled by similar sounding product names. Well, if Hornady didn’t think about SKU-challenged consumer before naming their new LEO-oriented-but-you-can-still-buy-it round, they have now. To save you all that unpleasant bending and clicking (to the ammomaker’s website), here’s the 411 on the ALL CAPS critical differences between Critical ammunition . . .

Critical DUTY™ handgun ammunition is built to meet the needs and requirements of LAW ENFORCEMENT and TACTICAL PROFESSIONALS, as well as those law abiding citizens who prefer a full-size handgun for their personal protection and demand superior barrier penetration and subsequent terminal performance.

The FlexLock™ bullets loaded in all Critical DUTY™ offerings are rugged, heavy jacketed bullets that deliver virtually “barrier blind” performance (i.e. total penetration, weight retention and expansion are practically the same) when shot through common urban barriers* (bare gelatin, auto glass, sheet metal, plywood, drywall, heavy clothing*). In addition, Critical DUTY™ loads are “full power loads” designed to function full-size handgun slides. These loads are NOT optimized for short barreled, concealed carry style handguns. They will deliver standard recoil during firing.

Critical DEFENSE® handgun ammunition was developed to provide the best performance for DEFENSIVE or PERSONAL PROTECTION SITUATIONS and is the ultimate choice for any short barreled, concealed carry style firearm.

The FTX® bullets loaded in all Critical Defense® handgun ammunition were designed to expand and provide the terminal performance needed for close encounters often associated with personal protection situations. Additionally, Critical DEFENSE® is not intended for use in in extreme (law enforcement) situations that require superior barrier performance.* However, the FTX® bullet will expand reliably and will not clog like standard hollow point bullets when fired through heavy clothing.* In addition, Critical DEFENSE® ammunition IS optimized for short barreled, concealed carry style handguns and will not deliver excessive recoil and associated “muzzle flip.”

*As defined by the “FBI Protocol” handgun ammunition tests.

The text fails to mention the low-flash propellant part of the Critical DUTY ammunition. Anyway, any of you tacticool types planning to switch from Critical DEFENSE to Critical DUTY? I’m waiting for Critical THEORY ammo.


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  1. So its a hollowpoint that wont expand when it hits barriers so it has a higher chance of killing my neighbor? No thanks I can see how it would make sense for the police but not for a private citizen. Maybe one or two at the bottom of the magazine with the logic that if you have to fire more then a few rounds the bad guy will probably be behind cover(prepared to be proven wrong)

    • I’d rather the cops (or anybody firing a weapon) use separate mags for different ammo instead of just putting a couple at the bottom. I don’t want them to have to shoot through the rest of the mag to get to the rounds they need.

    • why would i not just use a “full power” round in my concealed carry gun, also is critical defense/duty used by any major departments for hand guns/rifles?

  2. Meh. I just use what the cops generally use:

    Federal Tactical HST
    Winchester Ranger T
    Remington Golden Saber Bonded

    They can generally be found in 50 round boxes (versus the 20/25 round boxes that ammo makers seem to want to push to the “commercial” market).

    They are proven loads. They are cheaper. Together, this means I can practice with SD ammo more often… which is a critical thing, imho.

    • Don’t forget the Speer Gold Dots. You can get a nice deal on them in 50 round boxes, any caliber and they’re issued in a lot of agencies.

  3. I carry Remington Golden Sabers in all my carry guns. Reason being that a brass jacketed bullet and nickel plated case are less prone to corrosion and material failure. That and the primers are sealed on all Golden Saber ammunition, which could be critical (*eye roll*) if you’re carrying in high humidity weather/fighting in the rain or snow.

    Critical Defense was ammunition I considered for a revolver, as the velocities I read in .38 Special were phenomenal, but the price versus the tried and true ammunition I happened to already like was a deal breaker. Critical DUTY sounds like a bonded bullet, which is the latest trend in expanding ammunition, and bonded bullets essentially seem to be the same thing. They sell barrier penetration, non clog on clothing, and deep wound cavities. I carry bonded rounds in .357 SIG daily but that is because that is the only offering in the caliber within the Golden Saber line.

    My question is…does marketing actually influence the choice of seasoned shooters? Furthermore, what shootings actually have proven that bullets hanging up on thick clothing actually happens and fails to stop the bad guy? Windshield glass can cause a change in trajectory and any solid barrier can be a failure to penetrate but the clothing argument gets me every time. Who picks up a box of bullets and says “Even if the bad guy is wearing ten denim jackets I’ll stop him!”

    • Look at ammo test on YouTube. Golden sabers work, but they are not top of the line. I have since switched from using them.

      • In .357 SIG only Golden Sabers and the Winchester Ranger Talons (bonded) perform exceptionally. In .357SIG additionally my Gold Dots experienced regular setback that I hadn’t seen out of any loads in the caliber. This caused a failure to feed and after finding a fifth set back round in my carry magazine I cut them loose.

        While Golden Saber is not universally regarded as top of the line it is still a good performer in every caliber and neck and neck at best in .357SIG, which is my EDC caliber.

        I buy them because they work and if I stash my weapon or ammunition in my car the risk of it failing to function is sizably higher due to moisture in the air in winter weather. Sweat discolors and affects natural lubricative traits on brass cases rounds. Both of those things are mitigated by the GS. The ammo test says they don’t expand perfectly but I put these rounds in so that I get bang after bang and can’t imagine a functional failure, not to imagine the wound cavity it will leave in the BG, which is still substantial at any rate. I do actually like other defense ammo in other calibers but to keep it simple, effective and inexpensive I go with what I know works. I have yet to see a failure to expansions to optimum performance notation as a factor in a DGU and it saves the ammo box juggling.

  4. Well, since we got talking about ammo, I run Winchester Silvertips in my Glock 20. I figure if it expands, its all to the good. If it doesnt (for whatever reason) then having a .40 cal, 175gr bullet passing thru Mr Badguy at close to 1300ft/s should suffice, even if it acts like a FMJ round.

    When talking firearms, Never depend on fancy bullet designs when you can have brute force on your side. Why do you think that the .45 Colt (and .45acp) is still regarded as an effective combat round? Certainly not because of the design of the old fashioned 255gr round nose lead bullet that comes standard trundling along at 900 ft/s. No worries about penetrating multiple layers of clothing there…

    In all honesty, I would not feel under-armed if the G20 was loaded with my low(er) velocity plated target rounds and I figure that Mr Badguy will agree after one (or two or three) of those has perforated his thorax.

  5. I carry Golden sabers as well. Never a problem, or a worry about if they will function, or work.

    Now, when they come out with Critical Mass, I may have to give them a shot… to speak.

  6. So why not Critical Defense Short Barrel and Critical Defense Long Barrel and ditch the Critical Duty name altogether?

  7. I’ve carried Critical Defense 9mms for almost two years, because they function perfectly in my full-size and subcompact 9s, with minimal muzzle flash and mild recoil. They’re also a bit less expensive than many other premium defensive 9mm ammo at the retailers I frequent, and I like that the hollowpoint cavity won’t get clogged from pocket lint or a bad guy’s leather jacket and Russell Athletic hoodie.

  8. Another vote for Golden Sabers. $17 a box means I can afford to run 20 thru my carry piece (LCR) every month.

  9. More like critical pricing. Many companies offer essentially the same product but charge less to more price sensitive consumers and more to businesses that can and do pay more. Internet service, for example. I have to wonder if this is all about squeezing ‘a buck or two’ more money out of the professionals.

  10. I load up my Thunder 45 with Fiocchi Extrema. $28 for 50 rounds, nickel plated cases, made in the USA and it uses the 230 gr. Hornady XTP bullet. I’ve used various XTPs in my reloads for many years and they are an extremely good bullet.

  11. For everyone who seems to be confused, the two different lines use two different bullets. The critical defense use a standard bondedlead/copper jacket FTX bullet. While the critical duty uses a harder lead/ copper jacketed bullet where the lead and copper are locker together by a ring in the copper jacket that sets into a groove in the lead core.

    Bonded lead/jacketed bullets require the use of a softer lead allow that doesn’t perform the same as the harder lead used in non-bonded bullets. The harder lead performs better against barriers.

    I’ll be buying some critical duty when I see it, but I’m still not happy about hornady’s “law enforcement need better bullets and hotter loads than lowly civilians” attitude.

  12. I carry black hills 230 grain ball ammunition in my 5” 1911. And then I carry 115 grain +P Corbon/Barnes DPX in my GLOCK 17. These seem to work extremely well. I’ve tested both on auto glass, auto doors and hogs, and the results are impressive. To a lesser degree, i’ve tested them on pumpkins and watermelon, but that was less scientific and more messy fun oriented.

  13. I carry this in my Glock. Not really afraid of over penetration in a defensive situation. I like it for all the reason’s, I can’t think of, pertaining to penetration through barriers. Rather than what I can.

    But realistically, what if you need to engage from your drivers seat, or any car seat for that matter through the wind screen? What if you need to fire through a door on a B&E? There are plenty of reasons to carry this ammo. And I love it.

  14. I carry Critical Duty in my SA XD(M) 40S&W Compact they are probably the best round I have shot I can tell a little difference between 175gr and the 180gr PDX1 dont know why it’s only 5gr but I can tell a little difference. All this short barrel long and full size barrel is a big marketing scheme. I just got 2-50 boxes of 40S&W Critical duty for $34 a box around .70 cents a round, not bad at all for SD ammo, esspecially with the way prices are nowadays.

  15. Any round is a good round if ya need it . But if ya dont have it look out. Just whatch what your doing. if ya can,t see it or hit it dont shoot.

  16. I carry Critical Duty in my Glock 22 every day. Most of the time when I’m carrying, I’m in my car, which is why I like it’s performance through barriers such as auto glass or a car door. I’ve also had several friends who have had people intentionally try to run them down with a vehicle, which was another factor that led to my decision to carry this ammunition. For home defense though, I prefer to have some Federal Hydra-Shock 180gr on hand.

  17. I will lay a disclaimer as a just home army recon personal I may or may not have a little more training and education on firearms and ammo. With that said I do see alot of crap about humidity and water affecting the round, well here is a clue STOP DEPENDING ON THE MANUFACTURE TO DO ALL THE WORK. If you simply coat the neck of your round (or where the round and casing meet) and the primer with a light coating of clear nail polish. water (or humidity) will no longer be a thought. And I’m quite baffled by though’s who are concerned with this. In a standard self defence situation you will never have to worry about this. So stop. And to you who use a handgun for home protection and then you complain about over penitration have you heard of a shotgun? Especially when you conciter low brass ammo, and the fact that your arms fully extended (as the typical case when firing a hand gun) will equal about the same length as a shotgun? Oh and as to one comment if you age fireing blindly through a door on a b&email you are wrong and probably going to jail. ALWAY I MEAN ALWAYS…ALWAYS. Have positive eyes on who and what you are shooting at. And I’m sure I have missed a thing or two in my rant but just remember your not Hollywood 9/10 times you will never even draw your weapon, oh and stop thinking your Hollywood and beleaving your going to have to shoot though every barrier imaginable and step back to self defence facts and statistics and base your judgement off that. Oh and I am neither for or against this ammo.

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