With today’s pocket dump of a Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 and another tactical pen comes another topic: personal defense ammo.

Craig Wildfeuer lists his carry ammo of choice as Hornady Critical Duty which is a pretty solid choice. Hornady Critical Defense was originally designed more for civilian needs; Critical Duty was made for law enforcement and meant to pass stringent FBI protocols for penetration. As a result, Critical Duty penetrates deeper than Critical Defense and is also capable of punching through barriers more efficiently.

Choosing carry ammo is more important than many gun owners believe. All defense ammo is not created equal. What’s your carry ammo of choice?

42 COMMENTS

    • Almost Paul , but in my neck of the woods my self defense carry ammo is .44 mag +p+ Buffalo Bore 340 grain hard casts.

      Creedmoor just won’t cut it.

  1. Critical Duty in both the Glock 26 (9mm) and LCP2 (.380). Never had a problem with it, even when I keep it in the guns longer than I should.

  2. Depends on the gun. My Star BM reliably digests Golden Saber, so that’s what it gets.

    Other than that it’s whatever’s on sale when I need more JHP so either Critical, PDX, Golden Saber, Sig EPA, Gold Dot, whatever.

    For all the talk about how different rounds have different characteristics in terms of accuracy and where they hit relative to other rounds fired at the same point on the target I have yet to find one that functions differently enough for it to really matter in terms of a defensive sidearm.

    • And here I was thinking I’m going to be the one guy who just grabs a box of hollow points. Some may preform a little better then others, a little better. Hey strych, does your Star have plastic or wooden grips. The one I gave to my son had plastic, but he changed them to wood, I don’t know where he found them.

  3. Critical Defense. Not sure I want my civilian ammo “punching through barriers” too easily. Most self defense activities will more likely make me a target of a criminal investigation as to was it justified. Using Critical Duty provides no additional benefits, in my opinion, and may make me open to criticism and the possibility of unintended collateral damage beyond my target.
    My personal opinion is Critical Duty is overkill for civilians self defense.

    • Critical defense will also “punch” through most barriers. The major difference is the consistency of performance after the barrier.

      If your critical defense passes through a barrier but fails to expand after it hits gel/flesh, it may actually penetrate DEEPER than a round that expands after a barrier.

      • Follow up. Because the two rounds are also optimised for different length barrels you consider choosing your round based on firearm.

        Less than 4″ barrels ought to be fed Critical Defense and 4″ and longer should be equipped with Critical Duty.

        Otherwise you could get over or under penetration depending on the combo.

  4. For me Critical defense in the 9mm Shield and Critical duty in the P89. As for the criticism about over kill and the judgement it raises. I for one don’t care. When it comes to self defense. I want to be sure the threat is stopped. If that means dead so be it. Better them than me or someone I care about.

  5. It he number one failure in hollowpoints is failure to expand because of cavity clogging.
    Thats why I carry critical defense in my shield and critical duty in my larger guns.

    And on another topic, when are manufacturers going to start making hollowpoints optimized for carbine length barrels like the cz scorpion or ruger pcc? With the resurgence of pistol caliber carbines, you’d think people would want ammunition optimized for that velocity.

  6. Hornady Critical Duty 124gr +P for carry, Winchester 124gr NATO-spec (basically a +P load) for practice. This is for my compensated carry gun, which has a 4.5″ barrel length. The recoil impulse between the two loads is identical which makes training more effective, and the slightly higher gas pressure helps the comp work better and ultimately results in less felt recoil than a standard pressure 124gr load

  7. For 9mm, Federal HST in sub 4″ barrels and Winchester PDX1 in 4″+ barrels. Substitute HST +P for PDX1 for 45 AUTO in longer barrels.

    Shootingthebull picked HST over Critical Defense in short barrelled pistols.

  8. 9mm 4 inch
    Critical Duty +P
    Federal 9BPLE +P+
    9mm 3 inch
    Golden Saber +P 125
    Federal HST
    Snub 38
    Golden Saber +P
    Federal Micro HST (trying it out – sucks for reloading)
    4 inch 38
    “The Load”
    Winchester or Federal 158 grain +P
    Buffalo Bore 158 grain +P

    Ran out of Nyclad a long time ago.

  9. Anything on DocGKR’s list is good to go as long as it feeds and functions reliably in your gun 😉

    Personally I use Winchester Ranger RA9T pretty much across the board but do have a few guns that prefer the Barnes DPX.

  10. Hornady Custom or Critical Defense in all pistols.

    I don’t think ammo choice holds as much sway as most people want to give it. Reliability is crucial, but the rest is up to the shooter.

    Most folks would be better served training/shooting more and worrying less about gear and what they are going to buy next…

    I’d put my money on a well trained fighter with FMJs over an untrained or hardly trained fighter with the latest and greatest gear…

    And while I’m on my soapbox – train hand-to-hand combatives. BJJ, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Sambo, Boxing, etc. Not every situation calls for skinnin’ the ol’ firearm. An unarmed drunk uncle or friend causing a scene probably warrants an arm drag and rear naked choke and not a double tap to high center chest.

  11. Critical Defense in my 9mm Glock 43, Critical Defense in my Shield .40 on the running path, Winchester Black Talons in my .45 Detonics when I’m meeting someone for a sales transfer. Haven’t had to use any of it so I can’t say which is better, not even the caliber…

  12. In my .380 I use Underwood Xtreme Defense. It is fluted so I don’t have to worry if the hallow point will open up, which can be an issue in .380. I use Critical Defense or Remington Ultimate Defense in my 9 mm.

  13. Federal HSTs in every caliber I own. 380,38spc,9mm,40s&w, 45acp. My 10mm 1911 Commander gets Double Tap full power 135gr Barnes copper hps.

    • I agree that HST is the best in all calibers except .380. The aggressive expansion and relatively low velocity almost guarantees under penetration.

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