Most gun owners know the importance of choosing good self-defense ammo that works for their particular handgun. The problem is, most aren’t sure how to do that. How do you know which ones are good, which are only OK, and which ones excel? There are a few basic criteria for picking good self-defense ammunition for your particular handgun.
First, it has to be a round that expands.
This is important, as over-penetration of a bad guy can lead to subsequent penetration of other non-bad people. That’s why it’s not a good idea to use full metal jacket (range) ammunition in a concealed carry or home defense handgun.
Every bullet you fire in defense of yourself or others has a lawyer attached to it, so you’re responsible for what happens once it leaves your gun. Therefore, you need to do everything you can to avoid being responsible for shooting someone other than an attacker.
Ideally, self-defense ammunition will have a good blend of effective penetration and expansion. It should penetrate to a sufficient depth to compromise vital organs, but also expand enough to dump its energy into your target and then come to a stop.
Don’t listen to anything you hear about “stopping power.” Handguns don’t have much (relatively speaking). Newton’s Third Law dictates that a gun has to produce enough force to knock YOU down through recoil to produce enough force to do the same to the bad guy who’s coming at you. To get that, you’d need an elephant gun and unless you’re going up against graboids, that’s not gonna happen.
To sum up, you need expanding ammunition because it’s less likely to go through the target. But it needs enough penetrative ability to hit something that matters. Placement will take care of the rest, which is what you learn to do with shooting practice – it’s just as much about where your self-defense ammo goes as it is about which kind you buy.
Secondly, you need to choose ammunition that functions reliably in your gun. That means spending some dollars to find the brand that your firearm “likes” and shoots reliably. You’ll have to shoot some self-defense ammunition at the range, which – yes – is a bit expensive. But that’s the only way to be sure the ammo you’ve chosen works in your gun.
Most guns these days aren’t as particular as guns used to be even five to ten years ago. That said, some guns just seem to like certain brands and bullet weights more. They cycle certain rounds more reliably and shoot them more accurately. So you need to do the work to find those brands and varieties that work best with your gun.
Note how close the pistol/ammo combinations pattern relative to your practice ammunition. You want to use ammo that prints as close to your typical box of hardball as possible for consistency’s sake.
Once you find the best round for you and your handgun, the rest is easy. Lay in a good supply and stick with it.
My carry gun feeds most JHP ammo pretty well, but I’ve noticed that Winchester PDX1 tends to hit closest to the point of impact of the range ammo I typically buy (Blazer Brass, if you’re curious) so that’s what I carry.
Those are the basics. Your personal defense ammo has to be expanding and it has to work in your gun. So, how should you go about picking one?
It’s always good to choose a brand that has some sort of track record of success in the real world. It’s all well and good to buy the newest tactical hotness made by a bunch of cowboys in a turnip shed somewhere, but personal defense ammunition is a tool you’re staking your life on. It really has to work when you need it most.
This is where things get complicated. You have to do some legwork and make the best decision you can.
In my case, Winchester has been making ammo for a long time. The PDX projectile – meaning the bullet itself – is the same one that’s been used in Winchester’s premium JHP for ages, from Black Talon to Ranger T Series. It’s proven, or at least is as proven as a bullet can be. While there are no guarantees, I can reasonably expect it to work.
Plenty of testing data is out there, though you should be aware of its limitations. Ballistic gelatin is an imperfect simulation of human tissue; in fact, ballistic gelatin uses the aggregate density of all human tissue.
In other words, it’s the average of bone, skin, blood and muscle density. Per a conversation I had with Chris Laack, head of handgun ammunition development for Vista Outdoors (that’s who makes Federal and Speer and many more) at SHOT Show, the correlation seems to be about a 2:3 ratio. If a bullet penetrates 12 inches in gel, it will penetrate about 8 inches in a person. So bear that in mind when you look at testing results, such as that done by Lucky Gunner Labs or ShootingTheBull410.
For my money, the best ammunition testing is done by YouTuber Paul Harrell, who uses an actual meat target. He’s incredibly thorough.
Conventional wisdom is (or at least used to be) that you find out what your local cops are carrying and buy that, which is actually not bad advice. For one, it’s what the professionals use, so why shouldn’t you? Secondly, some prosecutors have been known to question ammunition choice in the wake of a self-defense shooting.
The idea some prosecutors have is that if a person selected a particular type of ammunition – such as jacketed hollow points – they clearly intended to kill someone. According to Massad Ayoob, you can easily answer them by saying, “Well counselor, the police use this same brand and type of ammunition to protect people, so I thought it would be a good idea to get the same kind to protect myself and my family.”
So what do cops carry?
Police officers almost universally carry jacketed hollow point ammo. There are a number of bullet styles – which I’ll get to momentarily – but JHP reigns supreme among law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels. It’s the most common self-defense ammo.
What brands, specifically?
Federal HST, Remington Golden Saber, Speer Gold Dot and Winchester Ranger are the most prevalent. The ammunition industry makes “law-enforcement only” ammunition, but it’s typically no different than what you can buy at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse. Additionally, some retailers will sell LEO-only ammo to civilians, though you’ll have to do some hunting online.
However, there’s something you should know. The typical police officer carries a duty pistol such as a GLOCK 17 or SIG P320. The typical civilian carries a compact semi-automatic, with many preferring a subcompact. Why that’s important is that not all self-defense ammunition is made to function well in pistols with short barrels.
That isn’t exactly news. Police officers noticed many years ago that loads like the standard 158-grain lead semi-wadcutters in .38 Special +P functioned well enough when fired from their, say, Colt Police Positive, S&W Model 10 or Ruger Service Six, but wouldn’t do well when fired from, say, a Colt Cobra or J-frame snubby.
A truncated barrel also truncates muzzle velocity, and the thing about expanding ammunition is that – depending on its design – it may not work below a certain velocity threshold. Therefore, if you carry a small pistol, such as a Smith & Wesson Shield, GLOCK 43 or Ruger LC9s, select a load that’s designed for a short barrel.
That’s a lot of words, but all the information I’ve absorbed about ammunition and terminal performance leads to me to conclude the following:
The really popular styles of ammunition for practical purposes, including self-defense and hunting, are the most popular for a reason in most instances. They’ve been proven to work reliably and – at this stage in the game – it isn’t terribly likely that the wheel is getting reinvented anytime soon.
Incremental improvements will happen, but JHP has been shown again and again to be the best choice for self-defense ammunition in a handgun. If my mind changes on this front, I’ll fess up about it.
So you have to do some homework to find a good carry load. There are a lot of different brands and flavors of self-defense ammunition out there, and lots of claims about each one. So doing the homework first is a very good idea. Now get to it.
I carry a pocket full of rocks. Mess with me and you’ll get chunked.
This video is hilarious:
Guy pretending to be islamic throwing a backpack at israelis. LOL All of them think it’s a bomb and they run for their life! LOL
While totally unrelated to this threads subject I have a strange story.
I was in Costco and was by the vitamins and a Muslim woman was there.
She took out a small mat and started praying, people were freaking out.
The people who weren’t started saying nasty things to the woman.
I was looking for Vitamin C and ended up in a very loud verbal argument.
People were calling this woman a POS and a terrorist because she was praying.
I said this woman has a 1st amendment right to pray so shut up.
It got heated and I asked a couple of people, how devout are you to your God?
She isn’t hurting anyone so just shut up and move on.
The people who work in the pharmacy watched and when it was over they clapped.
I asked where the 1000 mg Vitamin C was and they showed me.
The woman finished her praying and thanked me.
Some on here may disagree with what I did but it was right in my mind.
“but it was right in my mind.”
Yep. And when a whole bunch of folks start doing what is right in their minds, it is called a war.
If a holy war breaks out in the Oak Brook Costco then you can blame me.
I was buying vitamins and have read the Bible and Quran from front to back and neither is a book about killing your fellow man.
Extremists come in many forms, in Ireland “The Troubles” had Christians killing Christians over nothing.
Don’t suicide bombers pray right before they blow themselves, and the many innocent people around them up? I’d probably freak out and run for the door.
File this under “things that never happened”. What a load of virtual signalling BS
And this is related to self defense ammo how?
JHP over FMJ whenever possible. I think that debate’s been hashed out plenty.
However, I run at least a full box (usually 50 rds) of defense ammo through any new gun – or whenever finding a good price on a new brand I’ve not used before – before making a decision to EDC with that gun/ammo combo. I’ve had a few jam-ups over the years due to a sharp casing (a result of poor edge coining during manufacture) or a wide bullet profile grabbing the gun’s feed ramp and not feeding smoothly into battery. Always test your desired gun/ammo combo to have that necessary peace of mind.
“JHP over FMJ whenever possible. I think that debate’s been hashed out plenty.”
There are arguments for FMJ in lower-power cartridges, to get desirable penetration to vital organs.
Case in point for my NAA mini-revolver backup gun. Federal ‘Punch’ ammo penetrates deeper than hollowpoints.
Kind a bell curve, that. With .380 and weaker you probably need the penetration. For .45 (and larger?) you either also need the penetration or figure you’re already wide enough. And for both the mouse guns and the supercentairan 1911 reliable function might require ball anyhow.
Lately for anything under 9mm just jam in a copper solid underwood and call it a day. Penetration is good and may (key word) have other terminal effects but don’t have to worry about feeding or expansion issues that hollow points can in that range. 45 ……..if it feeds it leads
Agree, plus to weed out the manufacturing issues as you mention I like to run a magazine or 2 from the lot whenever I buy more.
“How Do I Choose Good Self-Defense Ammo For My Handgun?”
I second the nomination for ShootingTheBull410 :
ShootingtheBull410 is very good but personally I like Paul Harrell and his meat target. Plus the he was in the military for 20 years and was charged in a SD shooting which he never brings up.
A lot of people on YouTube shoot at water jugs which IMO is useless info, a lot shoot at some sort of ballistics jello which is the FBI standard but the clear stuff is iffy and the homemade stuff is subject to environmental factors.
As for all of the Critical duty or Defense people, that was the only ammo that would not run in my WC 1911. Wilson Combat even recommends against it.
From the Wilson Combat website:
“We do not recommend Critical Defense/Duty ammunition or other ammunition with a soft polymer tip”
For the people below who use it that’s fine but you have to test YOUR ammo and see if it will run in YOUR gun.
Hornady was very cool and said that tight tolerance guns even with mirror like feed ramps do have a problem with some of the poly tipped ammo they sell. They Emailed me a me a shipping label and took back three boxes of .45 Critical Duty and then sent me five boxes of 45 Auto P 230 gr XTP for my hassles, their CS is top notch. I ran two boxes of that through my WC 1911 and its great.
YouTube is a great resource for ammo testing but remember just because the ammo runs well in someone else’s gun and you have the same gun, that doesn’t mean it will run well in yours.
At this point: Find a decent priced ammo and stick with it. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I shot carry ammo.
I remember the last time I shot my carry ammo. It’s after I fell into the Spokane River with my gun on. I got to the shore pulled my gun and pointed it down and water poured out the barrel like a cartoon. I went home and dismantled my P229 and got it all dried out and serviced back up and loaded up that ammo that had gone swimming because….wtf am I supposed to do with it?
I have an indoor range and it shot all 13 rounds without a hiccup.
I was halfway expecting failures because I had zero experience shooting ammo that had gotten wet and really had no idea what to expect. I was kinda impressed really.
You actually brought-up a somewhat significant consideration.
Some manufacturers apply sealants to their self-defense ammunition which makes their ammunition incredibly water resistant (even when dunked under water as you experienced). Note that sealants also reduce penetration of environmental moisture from perspiration and humidity in the air.
I have yet to notice any ammunition manufacturer actively specify this–although some of them may do that. In the absence of any claim from the manufacturer, you can simply inspect a cartridge and look for the sealant which is easy to see. On my self-defense ammunition, I can see a super thin layer of red stuff (looks like a shellac) around the primer cup. If you see something like that, the manufacturer applied sealant.
If everything else is more-or-less equal, choose ammunition with sealant.
“How Do I Choose Good Self-Defense Ammo For My Handgun?”
shoot some bad guys, the ammo that works the nest to put them down is the ammo to choose.
+1. The icky part is digging out the bullets to see how well they expanded.
If its not moving any longer the bullets expanded just fine and no need to dig them out, unless you want a souvenir.
To find out, you have to go to the range and shoot. That takes time, money, and patients.
I stopped buying Blazer Brass years ago. It has a tendency to create a glittery mess inside any firearm I’ve ever used it in. Cleaning is just easier with something else.
FMJ at the range and HP’s for carry. This all day long. With that said, there are differences between HP bullets. Some will expand better than others. Even though barrel length, bullet weight, and velocity can make a difference in this. Time at the range will not only break in your gun but will also tell you how well certain ammo cycles and if your magazines have problems. Run a box or two of HP’s but spend most of your target shooting using FMJ. Practice at various distances as well.
No one ever learns to swim until they get into the water.
So, you’re taking people to the range, shooting them and turning them into patients? How are you not in jail?
Very confusing response. I read and reread that and I can’t tell if that was a joke or was serious. I guess I missed your point.
I have taken people to the range but then I’ve taken people to the grocery store too. Took a few people to buy their car. I drove one person to their wedding.
I’m just not sure how to respond or even if I should.
Trolling because you meant Patience but wrote patients.
Grammar Nazi bullshit or is it bullshite?
he’s riffing on your use of patients where it seems you meant patience.
Perhaps I should have re-red the text.
Load your handgun. There you go. That’s what you’re carrying. It really doesn’t matter a lot. After all, it’s only a handgun. You better be looking at where you’re shooting. That’s what really matters.
20-30 years ago the challenge was finding hollow points that fed reliability. Then terminal effect was a focus somewhere in there to more recently. Now it’s more finding anything in stock that works well with your particular handgun but the options are much better all around. With all that said if ball is all that is available 45 and 40 work great.
Safe, 230 grain hardball in a 5″ 1911 has worked for me for a long time. I found it reliable and effective. A few others have also. Especially those on the receiving end. I understand they disliked being shot with a 1911 .45 ACP. Even if it was ball ammo. That’s why I have a few 1911s and couple thousand rounds of 230 gr HB. Never know when you’ll need them.
Will probably go the H&K route for 45 later on but after we get rid of the safe act as I would want to have the option for 460 Rowland conversion that would require a threaded barrel. Probably near the end of the decade. Did initially learn on a friend’s 1911 and it did clearly indicate when I was not holding it properly with various jams that ultimately did help me develop ok shooting skills before enlisting.
“a gun has to produce enough force to knock YOU down through recoil to produce enough force to do the same to the bad guy who’s coming at you.”
Nah. My gun/ammo doesn’t have knock down power. It has fall down power.
Dude, almost everyone I saw shot with anything, fell forward. Oddest thing I ever saw. Except no chalk lines around the body. We just took a picture of the body where it lay. But, it is Hollywood.
Hornady Critical Duty. Good enough for the FBI. Good enough for me. That way if the prosecutor asks why I was using that ammo. I can honestly state the FBI recommended it by their own actions.
Ruby Ridge, Waco, Trump house?
No longer much shine on that FBI endorsement is there?
The FBI chose the lowest bid. It’s that simple and they screwed over Speer and Vista Outdoors. Critical nonsense isn’t even nickel plated anymore and the Defense line is an XTP with a rubber plug. Most LEOs don’t carry it but do use it as practice ammo. The FBI uses most of the Duty line for practice.
Bullshit… nuff said.
Ive been told by someone on this site that I shouldn’t carry Hornady Critical Defense because Lawyers…
Judged by 12 or carried by 6.
Hornady Critical Defense, carry it. Forget the lawyers, its perfectly legal and even recommend-by-use by the U.S. Government because the FBI carries it. Your life and the life of your loved ones in that imminent moment is worth more than what the bad guy is worth.
Darkman above my post commented on Critical Duty I carry Critical Defense. I know Hornady makes both. I agree with you .40 cal I’ll take my chances in court. I also have USCCA so as long as I don’t act like an idiot and do one of those finish them off shots I should be good to go.
And yes .40 cal my family and yours are worth whatever trials we may face.
I carry Critical Duty in the P89. Critical Defense in the Shield, because it performs better in shorter barrelled pistols. My state has civil suit protection from disgruntled family members and attackers lucky enough to survive.
Rn, have an unstable Peeping Tom neighbor right next door who likes to hide behind concealment. This creeper “built” a bunch of craptastic blinds all over his back yard. This out of the cheapest bargain seconds lumber bins that could be found. His skills obviating themselves over the course of, which can be summed in only a single word; pathetic.
Looks like a for real run down Somali village back there. He must’ve trained in the finest of trash pile construction methods in the barrio’s south of the border. As expected, carrying primary Critical Duty, because enhanced barrier barrier blindness qualities with regard to the most prevalent probable threat.
These days cops are not seen as the good guys so I’m not sure using what they use would carry as much weight as it used to.
Personally, what LEO carry is what they carry. I see no reason to follow them. That’s like going ‘mil-spec’. What they have might be perfect but then it might not be.
Most defensive shooting is at very short ranges. Under 20 yards you are still extremely close to muzzle velocity. That being the case, use whatever you can accurately put on target quickly. No point in using something that may not feed reliably in your weapon or has enough recoil to make you flinch and misplace the point of impact.
A solid center of mass hit with ball/FMJ ammo will be much more effective than a grazing shot with JHP or a jammed up weapon to deal with.
I don’t overthink carry ammo. I carry Sig V Crown in 124 or 115 grain. Not +P. It “seems” to be about equal to HST in expansion(purdy petal’s). Tested in my several 9mm handguns. Since I’ve never shot anyone it’ll do🙄 I’m profoundly unimpressed by Hornady handgun ammo but I guess they’re good at advertising…
“I’m profoundly unimpressed by Hornady handgun ammo but I guess they’re good at advertising…”
You can’t stop there. Why?
It’s just cool to not like popular things.
i hate the beatles.
Because it’s all marketing. It’s a HP with caulk in it.
That’s how the inventor came up with the idea.
There is a video about it from Hornady.
Defense is an XTP with a rubber plug,
Duty is a XTP with less lead, same plug.
No more nickel plating on either to cut overall cost.
Sam and his weird neckbeard still refuses to point out a single study proving jhp outperforms fmj against human targets. In fact, I carry 9mm ball just to spite this guy and his weird neckbeard.
Gotta be trolling…
Not trolling if it’s objectively true. Megan Thee Stallion got shot in the heel by a 9mm JHP. Jacket separated and the bullet barely penetrated her foot. Neckbeard is still telling the “2/3 of ballistic gel” lie.
I know I’m a pain in the ass. I kinda enjoy it. I’m telling you guys. If you’re talking defensive, handgun calibers. Bigger, deeper holes are what counts. Handguns are handy. That’s why I can touch one now. No one ever got into a gunfight wishing they had a smaller caliber.
Everyone has to find the balance for their situation. Most of my realistic options for carry are smaller 9mm and my carry ammo reflects that. Home use…… results may vary but typically bigger.
A couple years ago Lucky Gunner started running some detailed ballistic tests using short barreled self defense type guns. It is in my mind the definitive place to start looking at ammo choices.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with LG.
I carry them thar rib cage ricochet speshulls. Devastators with timed delay fuse. 3 seconds later-SPLOOT!
A very proletarian writing job at best.
how about a full powder burn, reliability? A balance of penetration and expansion?
how about resistance to the elements?
Good fan boy effort.
Truncated has to do with duration not length.
Sorry, “truncated” basically means “shortened” and most often refers to a shortened length, size, or shape. It can be used in the context of duration, but that usage is much less common.
This is a link to a good example of a truncated object that most of us will be familiar with:
I’m a little disappointed that the comments for this article hasn’t descended into the caliber wars abyss. But anyway, I’ve been thinking about it and have come to the conclusion that if .45acp not only kills your body but also your soul, then .45 Colt must kill your body and soul AND steal your horse.
… and your truck.
I’m actually heartened by this article. And no one ever talks about the caliber that stole my dog. So many here say “I carry such-and-such” and it never fails. Whelp, most never had to shoot anyone (or a bear) with their load of choice. I appreciate the approach; do your work.
Well your truck is the 20th/21st century version of the 19th and prior centuries’ horse.
Also, I’m guessing that the ATF, FBI, et al carry 9mm, so that would make it the most effective round for killing Rover.
Nope, you need .454 Casul for the horse. Incidentally, you just made my day. (Snicker.)
When the US Miliary Issued the call for a semi-auto pistol to replace the .38 caliber revolver that were using, one of the things that was stipulated was that it had to be similar to the .45 Colt (of SAA fame). That is what the .45 A.C.P. does.
As for what I carry, Hornady Critical Defense is my choice, it works in all of my .45’s (me) and .380’s (wife). Also, I have seen what is does and how it performs in the real world.
As I recall the Army didn’t have much luck with the .38 Long Colt fighting off fanatical Muslim Moro warriors during the Philippine Insurrection and went back to the .45 Long Colt, first by reissuing old Colt SAA revolvers and then in the Colt Model 1909, a New Service model that was also chambered in .45acp in the Model 1917. The Moro soldiers would affix tourniquets to all their limbs so if they were shot in one of them they could cinch the tourniquets and continue fighting. They expected to die as martyrs.
I do not know where the current inane “ignore stopping power” argument comes from, but the misapplication of Newton’s 3rd in this article is hilarious.
What they’re saying is that a shot that would knock the target on his ass would also knock the shooter on HIS ass. That’s Newtons Third Law, as follows: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
Attackers shot by pistols have been known to continue their attacks, only to stop when they have bled out. I’ve never seen it personally, but I did see it in a video taken from a lady cop’s body camera. She shot the guy repeated, and he kept on coming, only to drop at the last minute.
The bullet weighs maybe 200 gr. The gun weighs maybe 20000 gr. Hence the gun behaves much differently than the bullet, when subjected to the “equal and opposite” impulse of the propellant…
Knockdown is real, easily measured, well understood.
I recall that NJ prohibits hollow point ammo. Any other States have the prohibition? Does JHP equal HP in their minds?
For those in the offending States, how would they go about choosing the best ball ammo?
I believe Hornady Critical Duty and Defense are legal there since they have a polymer plug in the hollow point. There’s also Xtreme Defense bullets which are designed to penetrate less than FMJ.
Beat me to it
Lehigh bullets loaded by underwood or polymer filled hollow points (critical either one) and hope for the best.
If I recall the law correctly you can have hollow points (in N.J.) just not outside your home, so taking a box on a trip to the range or even if you secure one of those “Golden Tickets” (CCW Permits) they may still be prohibited.
Someone else may have more info on this, if they/you do please chime in and clarify it for those here stuck behind the lines.
“Self-Defense” ammo? “Hollowpoints”? What the hell is that? I thought POG all sat at kitchen and coffee tables with a large knife and did the “Travis Bickle” cutting an “X” into the top of every bullet while risking setting the round off in their faces.
Spend an equal amount of time on actually hitting the target as opposed to worrying and overthinking the magic bullet. Use quality after doing research and test it in your weapon. Then practice and push yourself on time on target, distance and getting it outta the holster.
Nothing worse than seeing a “victim” with a quality weapon and ammo who couldn’t perform their selves
Should go without saying but yes this will trump bullet type. With that said what bullet type are you going for?
I’m a huge fan of his works, and I even have a few of them downloaded
Do not discount the humble wadcutter out of your short barreled snubbie.
When expansion isn’t going to happen, the wadcutter transmits substantially more energy than a round nose or an unexpanding hollow point – with mild recoil.
I have the humble Treasury Load in my stubbie but in .357.
Winchester Q4204 but mine are nickel plated and the primers are sealed.
Recoil is tame and the damage up close in devastating.
The Secret Service used these but in .38+P+ back in the day.
Your snubbie has to be a .357 but that goes w/o saying.
If you have a center fire revolver? I recommend using wad cutter ammo. The 32 s&w, 38 Special, 45 Colt, and so on. Wadcutters generally have a much lower recoil. Making them much more controllable for follow-up shots. The jell test videos from Lucky Gunner and, Gun Sam Revolver Aficionado, YouTube channels, show outstanding penetration for wadcutter ammunition.
I have found wad cutter ammo makes range time fun.
OK, for people who won’t or don’t have time to look at reams of data, testing, ballistic gel videos, blah, blah, here’s what you can do that gets you 85% of the way to “state of the art:”
Buy some Federal Hydra-Shok ammo for your carry ammo, practice a bit with it to make sure your gun cycles with it, and call it good. There is no caliber of variant of Hydra-shok that “sucks.”
Sure, there are bullet designs and loads that are better – usually only marginally. The reason why Hydra-shok continues to sell is because it works, it is well proven, it meets the FBI penetration specs, etc. It’s loaded by Federal, so it is high-quality ammunition that is highly reliable. Then, when you get some time, you can sit down and go through reams of data and find “the best” carry load.
I want to argue this as I enjoy caliber/loading wars but no this is a great starting point that will be good for anyone except the most picky or niche caliber/size.
Jeez, this article could have been two words…..Buy HST.
Gold Dots or Ranger Ts depending on the caliber.
HSTs suck in certain calibers, weights or barrel lengths.
The same with Gold Dots but they are the LEO standard.
Also certain Ranger Ts absolutely suck but others Wow!
The HST is not the end all be all.
Then you have Hornady,
I have read stories of the 9mm 115 gr Critical Defense bouncing off of peoples skulls.
Federal Hydra-Shok sells because people don’t know it’s 30 year old technology.
and Federal sells them in 20 round boxes that look just like Federal Punch.
Federal Punch is generally a much better SD round.
There is NO two word answer.
Federal’s Hydra-Shok sells because when you want a “good enough” self-defense round, it’s available on dealer shelves. It used to be quite available as a bullet from Federal to load your own, and at what used to be a reasonable price, which many of the other premium expanding bullets are not (either available as bullets only, or at a reasonable price).
Many expanding bullets have been designed to be launched from a duty-sized gun – ie, a pistol or revolver with a 5 to 6″ barrel, not a 3″ modern CCW pistol, and this sometimes causes a lack of expansion and/or penetration issues.
I keep Federal HST in all my handguns, and practice with Federal Syntech Training Match (purple bullet) because Federal loads it to be ballistically identical to HST in the same calibers/weights.
Shooting Federal STM at the range gives you identical performance to the Federal HST rounds you have in your defensive handgun… but at a substantial cost savings.
Please post any actual court documentation where ammo type was used to convict someone of a higher level of lethal intent. This is an urban myth based of the misconstrued commentary of Mr. Ayoob. The “could be used by a prosecutor” commentary is ridiculous on its face. By that same mentality one could argue that you used the same ammo as LE because you are emulating LE as vigilante justice. The wild accusations are an endless possibilty of “what ifs”
Hornady Critical Defense FTX 115 gr HP. Works well in all my pistols. Fiocchi 115 gr FMJ for punching paper.