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Thanks for sharing your carry choices in our previous QOTD: What’s in YOUR Holster? To sum up, there was a genuine dearth of mouse guns and revolvers. For some strange reason, Glock was our Armed Intelligentsia’s first choice for personal protection, with Springfield (both XD and 1911s) in second. [Chart after the jump.] The next, logical question is: what’s in your magazine, cylinder, breech-lock etc.? I currently carry handloads in my 1911. Specifically . . .

My personal loads start with R-P brass cases and Federal #150  large pistol primers sitting underneath  7.2 grains of IMR’s SR-4756 smokeless powder. Capping it all off are Hornady 230grn XTP Hollow-Points.

I’ve got one in the chamber, and seven in the magazine; these suckers fly downrage at 850fps and impart ~369 foot pounds (502 Joules) of muzzle energy. The eighth round is flat-nosed, 230grn Hornady that sails at bad-guy near 867fps, striking with 384 foot pounds (522 Joules) of muzzle energy.

Why the “crazy 8th?” – Simple; if I’ve made it through seven rounds of .45 HP’s and I still need more lead going downrange, then Mr. Bad-Guy is likely behind something, and I’m going through it.

Before I started reloading, my Springer stood ready to hurl 230grns of Winchester’s Ranger SXT.

So tell me, what’s your poison?

NOTE: Less than five percent of our readers ever comment. So the sample for our question on carry weapons is both self-selecting and small.

Glock                13
Springfield       11
Kimber             5
Kahr                  5
Taurus              4
FN                     4
S&W                  3
Other               13

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Ben is an aspiring gun-writer caught up in the pursuit of playing with firearms for a living. He spends his days grinding his way up the corporate ladder and wishing for 5pm. His nights.. well the details of how he spends those are private.. His childhood dreams of chasing "bad guys" for a living met the unfortunate reality of student loans, bills, and promotion potential. Ben resides in the Northern Virginia area and enjoys long walks.. to the range. Ben is always on the lookout for new article ideas. Have a firearm you want reviewed? A product tested? Your suggestions are welcome!


  1. I guess if I’m in bear country it would be the 700 grain T-REX round from ballistic supply. My favorite 45 ammo is the IQ because it’s the worlds first intelligent bullet(at least that’s what it says on the box)

  2. Wilson Combat hollow point .45s. Smoooth shooting. And their .223 ammo was the best Nick’s tested, so far.

  3. 124 gr Speer +P Gold Dot Hollow Points. Why? Because they’re reliable, expand well, it’s what we carried at the Sheriff’s Office and who doesn’t love 1220 FPS?

  4. 124 gr Speer +P Gold Dot Hollow Points because that was the best the gun shop had in stock at the time.

  5. I’m not that picky…I go with any quality +P 230 grain hollowpoint designed for self-defense. I do make sure it will run in my gun before I stock up, but the stuff is so much more expensive than roundball, I can’t afford to shoot a lot of it. Which is somewhat problematic, because it kicks more than the “practice” ammo (Winchester white box). Currently, I’m shooting Hornady XTP. But I’m not married to it.

  6. Hornady Critical Defense 115g 9mm in my Ruger SR9c (I missed the what’s in your holster post).
    They are inexpensive locally, they have low recoil and if you can believe what you read on the internet, they expand reliably.

    • Yes, this. In my KT pf9. Not a bank-buster at the range on occasion. Ups the comfort level having them in my carry.

    • Yet another + for Critical Defense 9mm.

      For you folks carrying hand-loads – haven’t you read all the cautionary tales? Google: “massad ayoob handload” for an eye full…

  7. I use Hornady Critical Defense 115gr in my Glock 17 – I find it to be a good compromise between recoil and knock back.

  8. .40S&W Remington Golden Sabers, 185gr, for two reasons. First I read from several sources that they have respectable “one shot stop” performance in actual shootings. More important though is that I put 500 rounds of it through my H&K in one afternoon without any stoppages.

  9. My opinion: don’t overthink mixing ammo in your magazine. You’re just as likely to empty off all 8 rounds in two seconds as perform “front sight, press” for each round.

    • Point noted; and appreciated! Building off of your question, and circling back to the QoTD – If you were to empty your magazine, what ammo would be flying dowrange?

      • When I lived in AZ and carried I think I often carried the 115 or 147 grain WW hollow-points from WalMart. Easy store to get to, ammo readily available, price cheaper for reliability testing than Hornady and such.

        Also, I could actually open the WW cardboard boxes open compared to those dang plastic cases other manufacturers package with.

        • This is similar to my boss’ habit. He uses a reasonably priced Winchester HP 147gr from Wal-Mart and practices with what he carries.

          OTOH, he does not practice very often.

    • +1. I am like Brad, not that picky for my 9. Whatever high-quality defensive round is on sale. Currently 147 gr Ranger SXT. However for the .32, Cor Bon all the way. Even Silvertips have significantly less mv and energy.

  10. Where to begin? 1) .44 special Mag Safe rounds in the Bond Arms 2) .40 S&W 135 gr JHP Winchester Ranger L/E rounds 3) Magtech .357 magnum 95 gr Solid Copper Hollow Point 4) .357 magnum Extreme Shock Fang Face 5) 9mm +P+ 115 gr Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point 6) Glaser Silver Safety Slug .38 Special +P 80 gr 7) Extreme Shock .38 Special Fang Face 8) Winchester Ranger .38 Special +P+ JHP 9) Extreme Shock 9mm Fang Face for my Taurus 905 revolver

    • Totally zombie ready! AmmoToGo advised me prices were going up due to gas prices and component costs, so I now have a minimum of 1000 rounds of every defensive caliber I use, and 2000 rds minimum for the rifles. 1500 rounds of 9mm +P+, life is freaking sweet. Now to sharpen up my handmade barbarian axe…(love you, Critic). I remain CUJO THE DOG OF WAR

    • OH, yeah, .45 ACP Speer Gold Dot JHP, CCI .22 LR Segmented JHP, .32 ACP Corbon and .44 mag Leverolution.

  11. I’m very comfortable with Federal HST for carry. Can’t generally find in local gun shop, so I order in bulk from internet. I use 124 gn +p for 9mm and 155 gn +p for .40.

    As an aside, I have a real problem with the ‘super premium’ cartridges selling for more than $1 a pop in local stores. Kind of seems like they’re selling magic self defense super pixie dust. Are they better than HST’s, Gold Dot’s, or Rangers – don’t think so. Way more profitable to sell – probably. . .

    • I am also very comfortable with the 124 +P Federal HST for my Springfield XD. was my last source for it at $27 for a box of 50. That was about a year ago and I think the price has only got up by $1 since then. Great reliability of expansion at that price can’t be beat.

  12. In my Glock 26 I carry Hornady TAPs…. in my Kel-Tec P32 I carry Corbon HPs during the summer months and Fiocchi FMJs during the winter months.

    Why? Because I said so. 🙂

  13. I currently carry handloads in my 1911.

    @ Shotzberger (if that is your real name 😉 )

    Aren’t you worried about some rogue prosecutor characterizing you as a bloodthirsty lunatic, so crazed with blood-lust that he (gasps!) loads his own ammunition?

    • I shall remain nameless!! err…

      Yes, it’s crossed my mind, and is a completely valid argument. Afterall, in this modern age, that line of thinking on the part of the rogue-prosecutor is just “common-sense.” It’s a constant little fear, but not one I’m going to just give in to.

      Basically – They’re a duplication of factory loads, but cost less than half as much, and are consistent. After seeing some chrono data on factory stuff, and noticing the inconsistency in speed and accuracy, I got fed up with the variables… so I decided to check on some of my old carry ammo.. (There’s no excuse when I’m pulling bullets on “premium” ammo and finding powder variations of +/- .4 grains or more… that’s just shoddy craftsmanship).

      Though, it will likely be the least of my worries as I’m sure my contributions here – (headshots, defining “minute of bad guy etc. etc.) will be far more damning to me when I am painted as a psychopath..

  14. I carry 185gn Hornady FTX Critical Defense .45 in my Regent 1911. Its more traditional shape feeds a bit better in my 1911, and the recoil is a bit snappier than a 230, but more controllable.

  15. Regardless of which two blasters are in rotation, they both get fed Remington 115GR JHP.

    Why such a pedestrian round Johnnie?

    Because I believe you should practice shooting with the gun and ammo you are going to carry and I can not afford to throw hundreds of rounds of the thirty-plus-dollar-a-box version downrange.

  16. I carry a no frills 1911 and run no frills hardball ammo through it. I’m not picky about ammo, other than feed reliability and bang reliability.

    I can shoot the center out of a silhouette target at up to 10 yards, which means the gun, ammo and shooter work well together on the range.

    I’m sure the gun and ammo will work well in a real life situation. No way to tell about the shooter.

  17. I’m not too picky either. Right now in the G-19 I’m trying Winchester Supreme-Elite Bonded PDX1 (124 gr +P) and in the LCP I’m carrying 90 gr Federal Hydra-Shok.

  18. Springfield XD-45 Compact w/ 13 Hornady Critical Defense 185 gr. Why? I enjoyed the Hornady demo video that consisted of making sure the round got through those puffy/down/life-preserver style coats which I see so often in the crap neighborhood I work in.

    • What kind of wall? A .22 will go through 12 layers (6 walls) of drywall. Planning to shoot your way out of a concrete warehouse?

  19. 147 win pdx1, they say the FBI uses it, not that that means anything to me

    It is a bonded bullet, I hear that is a good thing

  20. .40 Remington Golden Saber 180gr JHP in my PX4. This is the same round I practice with. I prefer to practice with the same ammunition that I plan to defend myself with.

    Cor-Bon’s .32 NAA 60gr JHP in my pocket/work gun. It is a necked down .38 at about 1,200fps.

  21. when hunting either
    44 mag – Win Platinum Tip or 460 Rowland – Corbon 230 jhp

    any other time either
    10mm – 180 grain Remington Golden Saber handloads – (and no carrying only factory ammo will not protect you from a lunatic prosecutor )
    9mm – Win PDX-1 +p
    depending on weather

    380 – Buffalo Bore fmj

  22. +1 to the “not that picky” crowd. Reputable manufacturer and heaviest-weight HP bullet in the chosen caliber is fine with me. On sale or “struck my fancy” works on occasion, too. It’s not loaded for self-defense until tested.

    Currently loaded with Hornady TAP, which was on sale. 😀

  23. As I did not reply to the previous “What’s in Your Holster”, I carry either an Springfield XD 45 compact or a Ruger LCP.
    Right now, I am loaded with Winchester white box, 45’s. 230 gr. JHP personal defense.
    It was what I could find and/or afford. I am not married to any brand. My only prerequisite is a 230 gr. projectile for the 45. The mouse gun is loaded with Fiocchi 90 gr. JHPs.

    “Go ahead and run, You’ll just die tired.”

  24. Summer carry consists of Taurus PT738 SS .380 and Fiocchi 95 gr. JHP/Hornady XTP bullet. Winter carry is either Taurus 809 9mm and Fiocchi 124 gr. JHP/Hornady XTP or Taurus 24/7 Pro DS .40 and Winchester “personal protection” 185 gr. JHP. Why? is mostly based on cost/affordability. It’s hard for me to justify almost $30 for a box of 20 Hornady Critical Defense loads as opposed to about $20-$25 for a box of 50 of the Fiocchi or Winchester loads.

  25. My daily carry LCP is loaded with the 102gr Remington Golden Saber round. Has decent stop rating for the caliber and is very controllable.

    For my 9mm M&P Pro and my 9mm Kel-Tec Sub-2000, I carry Federal Classic 115 gr +P+ (9BPLE) hollow points. It’s an older round, but is available and inexpensive enough I’ll actually practice with it. The stuff should be coming out of the Sub-2000 at ~1500 fps and roughly 600 ft-lb. Out of the M&P’s shorter 5″ barrel it should still be effective 🙂

  26. Summer carry…winter carry

    You guys have anything against Spring and Fall carry?

  27. 147 gr Winchester Lawman for my XD9–because I have a box; and Privi 71 or Fiochi 73 gr FMJ for my HSc and Beretta Tomcat, because 32 HP have been known for poor penetration, if they expand at all.

  28. I guess I missed the what’s in your holster post also. So, in my Taurus 24/7 in .45 ACP I use either Federal Premium 230gr Hydra-Shok JHP or Winchester Ranger LE 230gr SXT. Both feed and shoot reliably out of the Taurus and both group well. I like the Taurus 24/7 because it has 12 + 1 of .45 ACP.

    My BUG is a KelTec PF9 and I run Winchester 147 gr JHP. I use the same ammo in the Ruger P89 my wife shoots.

    I don’t worry too much about the +P ammo because Joe Criminal is not going to dodge either one and both have performed well for me when testing for penetration.

  29. Speer Gold Dots.

    124 gr in my P07, 90 gr in my P3AT.

    I’ve carried Golden Sabers in the past, but as far as I can tell, all of the modern bonded hollow points will work just fine.

  30. I prefer Winchester Silvertip Hollow points 115gr for my Ruger P89D. Awesome grouping and never had an issue with stove piping or misfiring , very clean ammo. Little spendy, but you get what you pay for! I generally use the 10-20 yd indoor target setting at the range and easily group 3-4 inches with 10 round clips. I do use cheaper rounds for filler, but always shoot a least 2 boxes of Winchester Silver Tips, since these are my home load.

  31. Winchester Ranger SXT.

    It is the Same eXact Thing the local cops carry. I was advised by Gunsite to simply carry whatever the local PD carries for prosecutorial reasons post defense.

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