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“For years, Speer Gold Dot has been the pinnacle of duty handgun ammunition performance,” the company’s presser proclaims. “New Gold Dot G2 builds on this reputation with a next-generation duty bullet design. Instead of a large cavity in the nose, Gold Dot G2 has only a shallow dish filled with a high-performance elastomer. On impact, the material is forced into specially designed fissures to start the expansion process, as opposed to conventional bullet designs, which need target media to enter the hollow point and create expansion forces. The result is extremely uniform expansion, and more consistent penetration across barrier types, gun platforms and barrel lengths.”

I’ve carried Speer Gold Dots for years. And Hornady Critical Defense. And Cap Arms ammo. And other hollow point variants. While I can’t recommend ShootingTheBull410’s YouTube ammo reviews highly enough, I’m not really “into” self-defense ammo.

The critical factor for me: will the hollow point ammunition cycle through my carry gun reliably, rather than the cartridge’s theoretical performance parameters. Price is also a factor; I shoot and replace my carry ammo every month.

What ammunition do you feed your self-defense handgun, why that brand and how long do you keep the rounds before you replace them — if you do?

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  1. Federal Premium HST 9mm 147 Grain +P JHP. Feeds reliably in all my pistols, has fantastic ballistic gel performance, and is surprisingly affordable for premium defense ammo.

      • Exactly. It’s worth less than 20fps in a 3″ barrel, which means if you shoot five +P and five standard pressure through a chronograph, the five fastest rounds won’t all be +P.
        I won’t subject my gun to the extra pressure for that.

        Besides, the standard pressure 147 is supposed to be ballistically identical to the American Eagle 147 flat point, which is an affordable training round.

        I like heavy for caliber bullets, and from all the youtube testing I’ve seen there are no poor performers in the HST and Ranger-T lineups.

        HST can be bought in 50 round boxes for about the same cost as many other 20-25 round boxes.

        Performance in your gun may be different than in mine.

    • Same here, except I usually use the 124 grain. I can fine plenty of 124 gr 9mm ball for training at cheap prices.

      For training, I usually draw and shoot the top three or four rounds from my carry piece. Then shoot the top three rounds off of each of my spare mags. Then I unload the mags, run through which ever training set I’m working on with ball, then reload my mags with the new rounds on the bottom. That lets me validate that the most critical rounds are working. I’ve never had a FTF with the Federal HST in my carry pistol (I’ve had a few with other hollow points on the mags with extensions on them, I haven’t retested those since I put in heavier springs). It lets me rotate through and keep fairly fresh ammo in my mags, and still minimizes the use of the more expensive ammo.

      • I’d spring for a bonded bullet for 9/124 or .40/155-165 and up velocities. Especially .357. Corner case failure due to lack of penetration on account of overtaxed bullet construction, remains a lesson from Miami.
        9/147 .40/180, .45/185 who cares. .
        45/200+ or .38, HST or such all the way.

  2. Hornady Critical Defense and critical duty. I believe they were one of the first developers of this style cartridge and also because of the short Barrels that you find in today’s subcompact concealed firearm the velocity doesn’t have such a drastic effect on the expansion of the bullet. You’ll notice shooting like Hogs daring hunting I’ve noticed that normal hollow points clog with the extreme thickness of the height of the hog where the critical duty and Critical Defense penetrate and open up uniformly no matter which firearm on firing them from and because the hollow cavity up front is smaller to traditional hollow points it seems to fit better in guns that are a little finicky to hollow point ammunition. And the price is quite reasonable and if you by 380 automatic or 9 millimeter they give you 25 rounds per box versus the traditional 20 rounds per box that all other manufacturers do.

  3. +2 Federal HST 124gr 9mm. HST ammo has superior ballistics, is the current issued ammo for DHS and various agencies, moderate price and at least for me, excellent reliability.

    • +1

      Nice balance of faster velocity than 147gr, but more weight than 115gr, all without needing to go +P or +P+.

    • HST 9mm 124 grain + P is great. It runs about 1220 FPS through my 4″ stainless LWD Glock .40 –> 9mm conversion barre. Good energy, accurate, and reliable. The 147 grain 9mm left ads are too anemic, energy wise, for my tastes.

      • I’d say +p for 9/124 as well. At least in traditional, doublestack, Glocks. More on account of the slightly stouter recoil pulse reducing the POSSIBILITY (slim, I know, not starting flamewar…) of a limpwrist failure when shooting weak handed with a broken elbow and busted and bleeding wrist…..

        Glocks are built to comfortably handle the even stouter, and often variable, +p+ ammo some countries used to churn out for subgun use, so why not feed them the slightly higher recoil pulse of a +p?

      • New for carry, reman for range loads. I have put 10’s of thousands of this ammo through dozens of guns and never had any problem with it. It goes bang every single time. At these prices, I can afford to actually practice with what I carry. And I practice a lot!

    • XTP’s in my .380, .38 special, and longer barreled 9mm. (90 grain, 158, grain, and 147 grain). I also use Winchester Defend rounds in my compact 9mm and I usually ‘train’ with the winchesters too.

      I would certainly trust HST’s in 9mm and will probably move to them when I stop buying locally and start ordering bulk online.

  4. ifn ah had a .45 (which ah doan), lehigh maximum expansion – two inch cutter, tip to tip. mebbe ya’ kin actually ‘kill tha soul’ with thisun.

  5. Federal HST 147gr 9mm standard pressure (not easy to find BTW). I don’t carry the +P due to arthritis in both wrists. So far my wrists have been able to take the increased felt recoil from the 147gr over their 124gr, but not what +P would add on top of that. Exceptional ballistics gel performance (see ShootingTheBull410’s 9mm Ammo Quest on YouTube), and my Springfield XD Mod. 2 9mm eats them without issue.

  6. I usually carry whatever the round that I’ve made and tested for that gun. It differs with each pistol. If that isn’t around, I’m not picky.

  7. Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P in a G17 and G26. Reliable, accurate, trusted ammunition. I usually replace it every 6 months, luckily, its availability is good right now.

    • Does .357 HTP expand, or does it mimic FMJ like .45ACP HTP does?
      Line up ten milk cartons full of water and see what happens.

      • The .357 HTP has more exposed lead than any SJHP I’ve ever seen. I shot a half full 2 liter bottle of water once. Hit it low to make it launch probably 12 feet into the air. There were fragments of lead still in what was left of the bottle when it came down. It’s my back up / zombie apocalypse round for .357 because if you shop around you can find it or the UMC stuff which is identical to it for $20-$25 a box. For carry I prefer the hot stuff though and while there are some full power loads that use that bullet, I’d consider them frangible at those velocities.

  8. A variety, usually what premium ammo can be found on the shelf. i do like the XTP bullet, but from what I’ve seen, the Federal HST is a better performer. However, during the ammo drought, HSTs were selling at my LGS at $1.50 each, so I passed. Freedom Munitions, which I have found to be extremely reliable in both new and reloaded, sells an XTP bullet. I prefer 124 grains, as the extra mass doesn’t do a whole lot at bad breath distances that might occur in a SD situation, run at a higher velocity and thus probably have more reliable expansion, and with less recoil, come back on target faster. I do have some Xtreme Penetrators from Lehigh that are very hot and will likely pass through any walls in the way should the need arise, in a backup magazine.

  9. I tend to recommend all sorts of loads and weights to others depending on their tastes in recoil, concerns, and above all, the firearm. As a rule, I only recommend Federal, Speer, Remington, and Winchester unless someone articulates a reasonable desire for something else (e.g. CorBon, Hornady). I’m fine with most bullet weights and pressures from these manufacturers: it really boils down to the shooter and the gun.

    My personal favorites:
    .38 Special: Speer 135gr GDSB in any barrel length
    9mm Standard Pressure: Federal 9BP, any HST
    9mm under 4″: Speer 115gr GD +P+
    9mm over 4″: Federal 9BPLE
    .357 Sig: Federal 125gr HST, Speer 125gr GD (reduced penetration), Corbon 115gr JHP
    .357 Mag: Remington or Federal 125gr SJHP, Speer 135gr GDSB (snubbies)
    .40 (depends on gun): Remington 165gr GS, Speer 165gr GD, CorBon 135gr JHP
    .44 Mag: Corbon reduced power loads (JHP & DPX); Glaser Safety Slug
    .45: Remington 185gr GS, Federal 230gr HS, HST
    .45+P (depends on gun): CorBon 164gr JHP, Remington 185gr GS, Federal 230gr HST

    • I empty the mags yearly unless the copper/brass looks off. I’m fine with ammo stored in a cool dry place for a decade.

    • Another vote for the 9BPLE. It’s a dated round, but performs as well as it ever did (back when it was The Street Stopper), hyper-accurate, feeds in anything, and cost effective enough to buy it by the case without mortgaging the dog.

  10. Sold off my last 9mm a while back…
    When it gets replaced, I’m considering stuffing it with Polycase’s loads sold today as the Ruger ARX line. Very impressive test results in compact pistols.

    • In my PM9 as well as Glock 43, this round has proven to be far more accurate than anything I can find. Just happened to use it for a review, and since then I’ve switched to using it for any subcompact.

      • Also quite useful in my LCR 9mm. Less of the “hand looks like hamburger” at the end of the Range day.

  11. Federal HST 124 grain standard pressure. Works well in all barrel lengths. And for .38 special I like golden saber 125 grain +p or Corbon DPX 110 grain +p. I have total trust the HST will work as advertised but the .38 loads are just the best out of a poor selection of ammo for a 2 inch barreled gun.

  12. Double Tap 158gr. Full power .357 mag with a semi-jacketed hollow point. I’d carry a 140gr. load if someone made that, but I suspect the 125gr. may under penetrate at the higher velocities.

      • The best looking 357 rounds I have seen are the Barnes Vortex .357 solid copper hollow point. Full expansion and 20″ penetration from a 2″ snub and almost identical results from a 4″ barrel. (24″ penetration). Scuba OZ tested some on YouTube.

        They burn clean and have low flash for .357.

      • I bought a box of those, but they’re not the full power stuff. They’re what BB calls ‘Tactical Short Barrel Low Recoil & Flash’ loads. Similar velocities from what you’d expect from the neutered factory stuff, and I don’t have a problem with 125grs. at the lower velocities (which can be had much cheaper). Plus it’s a fully jacketed hollow point and I prefer semi-jacketed HPs. SJHPs are IMHO one of the big advantages to re volvers.

  13. I carry my hand rolled 115 gr Gold Dots for 9mm. I use Unique powder for my compact and Blue Dot or Power Pistol for my full size.

  14. I use Ruger branded ARX in my 380. Shooting it out of a 4.25″ barrel has the same or better penetration as 9mm 124 grain HST out of a 3″ barrel. The first half of the wound channel is huge which makes it ideal for an anti-animal round up to mountain lion.

    Federal 124 grain HST for all my 9mm carry guns.

    ARX in 45. Great penetration and larger wound channel than JHP rounds. It’s a good general purpose round for both two and four footed creatures.

    My 10mm is a field gun so it’s usually loaded with Buffalo Bore 220 grain hardcast. If I am carryng JHP it is usually Hornady Critical Duty but I have been known to carry Buffalo Bore JHP.

    • Yes, 230 lead round nose 45acp. 2 rounds to chest on bad guy #1, dead; 2 gut, 1 arm, 1 chest to bad guy #2,down but survived. Those were my loads back in the day with an 1911 because they cycled.

    • Never killed a person with a handgun, but have killed many animals with handguns firing bullets in weights from 230gr to 300gr. The handgun bullet is a long range punch press, nothing more.
      I have treated very many pistol GSW’s in many different calibers. I never found any correlation to survivability and caliber choice. Well, I did have one dead from a very close range shot through the chest and spine with a .357magnum, and one killed from a contact shot to the chest from a 9X18, but those are single instances.

  15. I’m sold on 9mm, particularly due to this premier offering: Hornady Critical Duty, +P, 135 grain Flexlock. Historically, it beat every other 9mm round in consistent performance, superior penetration, even through barriers, expansion is just shy of .50, and maintains supersonic speeds. Even beats 50% of .40 cal rounds. Some other offerings might offer slightly better penetration, or expansion, but fail in the other categories, particularly consistency – some exhibit a complete failure to expand! Above all, I have used this round in 4 handguns – not one bit of reliability issue, and recoil is just a tad bit more than standard loads.
    And I’ll submit an even better ammo study across multiple calibers – 380, 9mm, .40, .45, brands, and loads – i have not seen anyone do a better, more comprehensive study than this, and present the data with such clarity. ** Their ammo prices are pretty good, too!**
    Having just re-visited the site, they have updated their study with 13 new 9mm rounds, so it appears that my favorite round might have been bested by some other new offerings.
    However, i’ll lift this quote on the subject from their site – a conclusion to their study – ” Choice of caliber and bullet are not the most important aspects of successful self-defense. Awareness, proper mindset, marksmanship, and discernment of when to use your firearm are generally far more critical to your survival than choice of gear.”

    • They also added to 45 JHP loads with 1″ diameter expansion and optimum penetration. New technolgy can be applied to any caliber. The wound channel increases with the cube of bullet diameter. At some point the bigger rounds will become significantly better performers than smaller rounds.

  16. Depends on the gun because some guns are a bit more finicky about ammo that others.

    For my EDC I carry 230 grain Remington Golden Saber JHP rounds. (.45)

    • In my FNX Tactical, this round runs flawlessly and gives me great grouping. Killed one deer and a few pigs with it already.

      • Nice! I originally got into the round in 9mm because it was the only JHP that would feed reliably through my Star BM. Every other brand/type she would choke after 2-3 rounds when she got the hollow point caught on her feed ramp.

        Never had a problem with the Golden Saber. Runs, as you said, flawlessly. Now I run it in my USP .45 tactical and it runs flawlessly and, like you, I get great groups. Haven’t killed anything other than paper with that particular gun though.

  17. My personal preference is remington green box 125 grain sjhp 38 specials.

    I carry them because I cannot find a good fbi load in stores (158 gr lswchp +p), and carrying a m10 snubnose means that I cannot rely on expansion, so I carry a different old school load that has been proven.

  18. In 9mm; Speer LE Gold Dot +P JHP, Magtech Bonded JHP, Ruger ARX–380 ACP; Remington HTP, Ruger ARX–38 Spl; Remington 125 gr +P–The Ruger (Polycase) ARX ammo is absolutely great in smaller guns–Shoot water jugs & watch the absolutely stunning explosive effects of a fluted bullet spinning at 1,000’s of RPM

  19. I alternate between Speer Gold Dot 147g JHP, Federal HST 147g JHP, Federal Hydra Shok 147g JHP and Hornady Custom 147g XTP. I like them all and they all shoot 100% reliably in all my pistols.

  20. Hornady Critical Defense for my handguns. They cycle perfectly, expand properly, and the name describes the possible use outside of the range.

  21. Personally, I carry Ruger/Polycase ARX rounds in my carry gun. They’re what are most accurate out of my Canik at the range that I’ve tested so far, gel tests are impressive, and they’re slightly cheaper than most other defensive loads that I can find on shelves. So… yeah.

  22. Well, youngster – shoot & replace your carry ammo every month? I thoroughly agree on the shoot (MANY rounds) of your carry ammo, in order to determine absolute perfect reliability. However, I replace mine annually (on my birthday). As an aside, I have shot ammo that was OLD – AND had been briefly (several hours) submerged in salt water. The year was 1969. Results? 12ga (plastic hulls, not sealed), about 80%, 22LR, about 90+%, 45acp (1918 military), near 100%. Yes, the 45acp military was headstamped 1918! None of this ammo had been stored in a controlled environment for at least 10 years prior. NO, I am not recommending you use questionable ammo for carry. However, I cannot recommend playing “Russian Roulette” with very OLD or improperly stored ammo. The stuff is amazingly durable.

  23. My primary carry ammo is Magtech Guardian Gold 115 gr +p 9mm: See the lucky gunner ballistics test here:

    I shoot it mainly because it’s accurate and affordable, and on the plus side, it has the most consistent penetration of any 9mm load on the Luckygunner ballistics tests, and its expanded dia. of 0.56″ is 10% better than average expansion. I prefer the higher velocity of the 115 gr +p over the lower velocity of the heavier bullets. I noticed in reviewing the luckygunner data that many of the heavy for caliber well-known and popular carry ammo doesn’t expand reliably out of a shorter barrel (the tests are with a 3.5″ barrel):

    Federal Hydra Shok 147 gr: 0.38″ (expanded dia.)
    Speer Gold Dot 147 gr: 0.42″
    Federal Hydra Shok 124 gr: 0.43″
    Hornady Critical duty 135 gr: 0.43″
    Hornady critical duty 135 gr +p: 0.47″

    I wouldn’t carry any of those in a 3.5″ barrel as they don’t expand and they mostly over penetrate.

    I do have as backup in my safe a couple of boxes of Remington Golden Saber 124 gr+p which performs really well on luckygunner’s tests as well:
    It has one of the better expansion diameters (0.66″ avg) and good penetration.

    Both cartridges shoot reliably out of my Springfield pistols. I usually shoot 2 rounds of defense ammo from each of my two carry guns each time I go shooting (about 1-2 times per month). I typically carry a Springfield XDs, but occasionally will carry my Springfield XD Mod.2 4″.

    • Totally different concept.

      The EFMJ is supposed to expand when it hits a barrier, which should result in less wall penetration. It could also be used in a locale where hollow point ammo is illegal.

      The Gold Dot G2 is more like Hornady Critical Defense; the polymer in the tip is supposed to keep it from getting clogged when it goes through clothing or a barrier.

      I’d recommend watching ShootingTheBull410s video on Gold Dot G2. The short version: it SUCKS from anything less than a full length barrel (GLOCK 17 size).

  24. Corbon 115 +p for the 19. Also 124 HST standard pressure. I run 380 gold dots in the LCP for work carry.

  25. 9mm over 4″ – Winchester Ranger-T 124gr +P
    9mm under 4″ – Federal HST 147gr
    45Auto (all) – Winchester Ranger-T 230gr +P

    After reading the comments on this article, I would have though more folks would have carried Ranger-T or PDX (same difference, different name), but I guess they’ve fallen out of favor…

  26. Speer Gold Dot 9mm 115 grain JHP +P+ in my Glock 19
    Federal Premium Hydrashok 90 grain in my LCP
    Federal Premium HST 230 grain in my 1911

    I feel confident in all of these rounds.

  27. Feel free to laugh…
    My home defense gun is a Springfield XD 9mm 5″ barrel and I’m too cheap to blow a buck per round. So I bought a couple hundred rounds of Fed Hi-Shok 115gr at $0.30 a round (I think). I shot thru a 50 round box at the range without a hitch. My logic is that the lighter round carries at bit more energy, but should also dissipate energy more quickly after penetrating layers of drywall and siding and provide a bit more safety to neighbors. I saw a naked gelatin test where the round expanded to 0.57″ and penetrated 11 or 12″.
    OK, I know that if the intruder is wearing two denim jackets under his winter parka, I might be screwed.

  28. OK, for the whole list:

    .380 = Critical Defense (Bersa Thunder)
    .38 Special = Gold Dot Short Barrel +P in Taurus 85 w/2 inch barrel, Cor-Bon +P in Ruger SP-101 w/3 inch barrel
    .357 Magnum = Remington Golden Saber (also in the SP-101)
    9mm = Gold Dot 124 grain +P (Ruger 9E)
    .357 SIG = Gold Dot (Glock 23 w/ conversion barrel)
    .40 S&W = Critical Defense (Glock 23)

    I also have a Makarov and a Tokarev, but I just bought them as range toys. If I did carry them, it would be Critical Defense in the Makarov, and regular ball ammo in the Tokarev (can go through level I and II Kevlar vests).

  29. I seem to be in the minority, but I prefer 165 grain @ 1100 FPS out of my 40 S&W over the 180 grain at 950 FPS. It’s a friendlier recoil impulse for me.

    I’ve carried Hornady Critical Defense, Remington Golder Sabers, and Federal HyrdraShocks. But always in the 165 grain regime,

    • I concur. I don’t even buy 180 grain for my 40s any more. I even tried Freedom Munitions 155 grain XTP rounds. Totally reliable. If I need a bigger bullet, I move up to 45 caliber with a 200-230 grain slug.

  30. My everyday carry is a .40 S&W pistol with 4.25 inch barrel. I load that with 180 grain Winchester Ranger T cartridges. They seem to cycle just fine. And all the testing that I have seen indicates they expand reliably to at least .62 caliber no matter what you shoot through.

    On the rare occasion that I carry 9mm, I have that loaded with 135 grain Hornady Critical Duty hollowpoint ammunition. Those also cycle just fine and seem to expand reliably no matter what you shoot through.

    And, on the rare occasion that I carry .380 ACP, I have that loaded with BuffaloBore 100 grain hardcast lead bullet cartridges which should create a .45 caliber permanent wound channel and just barely pass through. (Two small holes are better than one!)

    In the woods I carry a LARGE .44 Magnum revolver loaded with 240 grain semi-jacketed softpoint bullets exiting the muzzle at something like 1400 fps. One decently placed shot should promptly put down anything in North America with the possible exception of moose and grizzly bears … which might require two or three shots!

    I do not routinely cycle through my self-defense ammunition. I have been carrying the same Winchester Ranger T cartridges in my magazines for probably 6 years now. Honest question: is that unwise? Should I shoot off “old” cartridges every one or two years and reload my magazines with fresh cartridges?

    • At work, we cycle out ammo every 6 months. I cycle my self defense ammo out every 6-18 months in my personal guns. Given the importance of reliability, I figure it’s worth it.

    • I shoot 3006 ammo that was hand loaded in the 70s, works perfect everytime. Also shoot alot of surplus Russki cold war stuff from who knows when, no problemo. Have some South African stuff from the 80s in my ARs right now, very accurate.

      “Cycling out ammo” is just another ruse to justify bloated police budgets and buying tons of ammo on the tax dime. Unless you store your ammo in an oven or pond, it will never go bad. Anybody who says ammo has a shelf life is full of Hillary.

  31. I know people will shake their heads, but in my pocket .380 it’s ball ammo all the way. I can practice with it, it feeds reliably, and front what I’ve read such a short barrel hollow vs ball doesn’t make too much of a difference.

    • What you say is mostly true–even Remington HTP’s have little expansion, but way better than others–the real deal is Ruger ARX ammo by Polycase–imagine a polymer copper dust fluted bullet that absolutely destroys water jugs like a good 9mm HP–you can go the ‘Real Guns’ web site & look at the review of the new Ruger LCP II for a real good video demonstration of this round–this round DOES NOT fragment, so no matter what type of clothing a perp is wearing it is going thru & still doing it’s designed purpose–this round is spinning at 1,000’s of RPMs and acts like a buzz saw–I have fired a 9mm ARX from a Ruger LC9S at four sheets of steel from a grill and it passed thru them all without breaking up (heavier metal than a car fender)–have ARX’s in both a Ruger LCP Custom & LC9S–try it, you will be impressed

  32. Pure silver hollowpoints with the cavity packed with garlic. I have the ammo blessed by holy men from the major religions.

    My concerns may be different from yours.

  33. Used to carry 165gr gold dots in my G22, then I got a 1911 and it didn’t cycle Gold Dots so I tried HST because the 230gr 45ACP variant had a nose profile almost identical to 230gr ball. It fed well so I kept buying it. At some point I stumbled across the shootingthebull videos and realized how great HSTs were in 9mm, so when I stepped into the world of 9mm I stocked up on a healthy amount of 147gr standard pressure HSTs that I carry every day.

    I toss the top round from the magazine after I have chambered it a half dozen times or so (basically when the rim starts getting chewed up from the extractor or the nose starts to look beat up) and probably shoot through the full mag every 3-4 months or so mostly just to rotate to a fresh mag and give the spring a rest. I try and save my SD ammo as much as possible, not so much because of cost, just don’t want to get into the habit of burning through it and then one day not be able to find any when I hit my re-purchase quantity.

  34. A guy just killed five people in a mall with a .22 rifle in Wa. Everyone wants to talk about gell tests and expansion. Please…have you ever witnessed someone being shot? Doesn’t matter what you are shooting, just have to hit the right spot. Spend your money and make sure to look both ways after you are done shooting Ha-ha. Too many YouTube gunfighters out there…

    • You’re not wrong, but it’s fun to debate/compare with others and check out the ballistics tests on YouTube.

    • I read once (but not totally confirmed) that more people have been killed with a .22 than anything else–maybe so

    • Proper shot plavement is not independent of caliber. You have a lot more slop with 500 S&W than you do with 22lr

  35. Federal HST (147 gr standard pressure) in my lolglock19 for home defense.

    When carrying in NJ, I like to use Imaginary Boolet PEW (0 gr -P-) in my finger gun.

  36. I have never shot anybody, and I hope I will never have to.
    But if the need should arise:

    House gun .357 snubbie: Magsafe followed by HydraShok. Spares in speed strips.

    PPK/s .380: Feeds Magsafe and HydraShok, does not like Blazer aluminum.

    4″ .357: 158 gr HP, any major brand or type should do the job. In carbines Hornady 180 gr hunting ammo or Leverrevolution.

    3913 and BHP 9mm: presently HydraShok or Remington JHPs, both prefer 124 gr.

    .45 ACP: 230 gr HydraShok, or any bonded JHP. The old CCI “flying ashtrays” sometimes failed to feed. 200 gr RNFPs work in all my 1911s, and in an XD.

    Shotgun: 0, #1 or #4, or duplex shells. I plan to test some mini shells one of these days.

    .22: Mini Mags work in all my .22s. (Now conserving remaining inventory in favor of 9mm…)
    I might try some reasonably priced Aguila or Armscor.

    I don’t expect to need the AR for home defense unless some major disturbance occurs. It is chambered in 7.62 X 39.

    In semiautos, reliability is my first concern. Timely hits on target may be more important than terminal performance.
    In most cases I select heavy bullets. I prefer nickel plated cases, and flat point rather than round nose or conical profile bullets, provided it feeds reliably. I don’t care for pointy hardball ammo, which may overpenetrate, even in mousegun calibers.
    I have found HydraShoks work and have trusted them for many years. When testing a new product I expect a similar profile to function well also.

    Federal Guard Dog and HST look like contenders, and the Polycase seems promising for short barreled handguns.

    Factory ammo for defense. Reloads and steel-case ammo for practice and plinking only.

    ever arise:

  37. Am I the only person that still buys ammo at retail and perhaps worse yet, loads the Winchester 155gr Silvertips into my EDC gun (M&P40 Compact)? As for other guns (none of which I CCW for various reasons, mainly no money for leather or just too large in the first place), Federal 230gr HST for the .45’s. Hornady Custom 155gr XTP in the G20 10mm. (But I want to get some Underwood 155 XTP’s or Gold Dots along with 220gr hard cast for black bear). As for 9mm I want to get a bunch of Fed 9BPLE but same as the others – funds are short and I can’t afford bulk anything. Right now I just have a couple ones of 124gr HydraShoks and a bunch of Independence 115gr JHP on hand. My choices at retail are limited either by cost or (limited) availability. For example I never ever see Critical Duty in any caliber, just Critical Defense. And perhaps most sacrilegiously, I carry old old PMC Starfires in my LCP. Worked great on injured coyote but it probably sucks otherwise.


  38. I’ve always been, by preference, a .45 guy, and I’ve tried a lot of different types of rounds over the past 55 years. I generally use 230 grain ball (it’s relatively cheap and available) for weekly range practice, but my latest carry ammo is the Ruger 185 grain ARX round. It is very accurate, totally reliable in both my ParaOrd P-13 and my XDm (I recently switched my carry gun to the XDm because it is easier for my arthritic old hands to field strip and clean – besides every time I lose the barrel bushing on the P-13 my cat thinks we’re playing and if he gets to it 1st he hides it). The ARX is also a faster, flatter shooting round than the 230 grain ball, and ballistic gelatin tests show it making one heck of a wound cavity (seems to work kind of like using a .45 caliber high speed drill bit). I change out my carry ammo about every 6 months, typically by shooting it for my weekly range workout and replacing it with new ammo. I also unload my carry mags and replace the rounds in a different sequence pretty much weekly, since the top round or two tend to get ejected and reloaded a lot.
    I have also found very old ammo to be quite reliable. I used to get obsolete ammo from my friends in the EOD unit, who gave it to me instead of destroying it. 30.06, .30 Caliber M1 carbine, and 230 grain ball .45 ammo from WWII, all seemed to be quite reliable, as reliable as new ammo in fact (and the price was right too!).

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