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At at hair under $0.45 per round, Freedom Munition’s new X-DEF is less than (or way less than) half the cost of most premium self-defense ammo. Designed and manufactured entirely in-house, the X-DEF projectiles are engineered to expand reliably, penetrate the FBI-specified 12 to 18 inches in ballistics gel, and retain their full weight. We’d test these claims out, but . . .

(No primers as no live ammo is allowed in SHOT Show.)

By the time the ammo arrives, Freedom Munitions will officially be TTAG’s new ammo provider (but don’t tell anyone, we haven’t announced it yet). In fact, coupon code “TTAG” is already functional on the Freedom Munitions website, good for 5% off everything site-wide. Including ammunition from the 20 other manufacturers that FM retails.

Point being, we have historically eschewed reviewing products from sponsors to avoid the appearance of any sort of bias. In this case I’d be willing to chronograph and ballistics gel test X-DEF if you, the readers, are okay with it.

From where I sit, this testing is purely objective and the data and results can be presented without any specter of opinion or subjectivity. But please do share your thoughts in the comments below!

At a minimum, X-DEF is certainly affordable enough to encourage proper testing of one’s carry load. Ultimately, reliable function in a given gun is more likely to prove the critical factor than flawlessly consistent hollow point performance.

With many self-defense ammo options running well over a buck a pop, a lot of us simply won’t put an honest couple hundred rounds through our EDCs to make sure they feed, fire, and eject our loads of choice reliably. X-DEF hits a price point that makes practice and reliability testing less painful.

At the time of this writing, X-DEF is only available in 9mm 124 grain +P flavor. But Freedom Munitions will be expanding the line into .380, .40 S&W, and .45, plus adding both 135 grain and 147 grain 9mm loads. I do believe they’ll also be selling projectiles for reloaders who want to roll their own.

More info later this week on Freedom Munitions becoming TTAG’s ammo provider of choice.

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  1. Sorry, but this is the company that mixes up rifle calibers, frequently sets back bullets too far into the case, and makes .44 mag that is basically .44 Spl and can’t even come close to cycling a DEagle.

    Yeah, I definitely want to trust them with my self-defense needs.

    The only good thing I can say about them is that during the drought they had ammo available. But it’s really bad.

    • Hey speaking of that, what company’s .44 mag is closest to the “typical” .44 mag performance? I wonder because I shoot a lot of .44 mag from all sorts of companies and there’s a ton of variation in my experience.

  2. I’ve been looking at this ammo and can’t find a lick of info on independent tests. My main concern would be barrier penetration and expansion after barrier penetration.

    Right now my EDC ammo is 9mm HST 124gr (non +p). I trust this site and you specifically Jeremy if y’all decide to test this or ANY other of Freedom Munitions ammo (hint hint 5.56 60gr psp).

    • “My main concern would be barrier penetration and expansion after barrier penetration.”

      ^ This!

      I want to know if those bullets will expand reliably after going through four layers of denim which tend to plug up the hollowpoint cavity and prevent expansion in ballistic gel.

      • Fun and serious question:

        There are a LOT of cartridges with hollowpoint bullets that are extremely high quality cartridges except for the fact that their bullets do not reliably expand after going through thick fabric. (Fabric clogs the hollow cavity which prevents the bullets from expanding.)

        I wonder how well such cartridges would perform if I carefully applied a quality silicon caulk and cleanly filled the hollow cavity (without any residual caulk being outside)? I wonder:
        (1) How well would those cartridges cycle?
        (2) How long would the caulk stay in the cavity?
        (3) How well would those bullets expand with or without going through heavy clothing?

        • Testing would be done with FBI protocol clothing on the gel (which, despite what you see most YouTube types do, is not 4 layers of heavy denim but 4 varied layers that simulate actual clothing a person might later…It’s something like cotton undershirt, cotton dress shirt, denim, fleece, each of specific fabric weights…but I’ll look it up obviously and but the correct, to-spec stuff for any testing).

        • Jeremy,

          I would personally rather see you do it to IWBA standard (which is the 4-layers of 16 oz denim). My agency looked at both the FBI results (5 different tests through various barriers plus the gel) and the IWBA results. All of the big guys (Vista Outdoors, Winchester, Hornady, etc.) provide both test standards with their law enforcement books. IWBA provides a “worst case” clothing situation.

          Maybe this is something you could contract Shootingthebull410 to do since he uses actual 10% calibrated gel, not Clear-ballistics. It would also eliminate the nepotism factor that provides the sponsorship concern. Of every tester on YouTube I’ve watched, his tests are the most controlled and consistent. 10% calibrated is the only way to fairly compare results against other rounds on the market.

        • 10-4. STB410 is currently on hiatus from doing testing. Not gonna lie, if I do it I’ll be using clear ballistics gel. I’ll shoot a “control” like an HST or something — or maybe a few others — at the same time so a comparison can be made. But I *have* used proper pork jello in the past and there are two issues with it that make it a big PITA. One, it molds. Once it’s mixed up you have to keep it refrigerated and use it within maybe 5 days or it gets really gross. Two, it’s only valid at a specific temperature and it’s like 45 degrees or something that’s refrigerated temp. It needs to be shot at the correct temperature or the results are screwed up. It’s a huge PITA to get a block to the range in a cooler keeping it cold and then pull it out and put a probe in and wait until it warms to the correct temp and then shoot it (or keep it the correct tempt the entire time somehow).

          The synthetic stuff is consistent over a big temp range, doesn’t spoil, can be melted down and re-molded and re-used, etc etc…

          Unless this became such a hugely popular feature that it made sense to install a fridge in my car, I don’t see using pork gel. And, I’m afraid to tell you, most of the tests you see on YouTube with it are NOT at the correct temperature and are totally invalid because of it. Clear gel is a better choice if you aren’t willing or able to follow the pork gel directions perfectly. IMHO.

        • Thanks for the response! I completely agree with all of your points and appreciate the idea of doing a control with an HST, GD or something.

          I understand exactly what you are talking about with the 10% gel. We still had to do our own control tests every three years, and everything had to be stored in a fridge at the range. We compared it to the data provided by the manufacturers. The carry load for 9mm, .40, and .45 is still Gold Dot. I’ve been gone from my agency for a few years, but the protocol is still the same.

          Hopefully STB410 will be back at some point. The reason I referenced him specifically is due to his actual understanding and control he used with his tests. He actually documented everything and did it per FBI and IWBA protocol. Very rare (and time consuming) for a YouTuber. Almost everything else out there has to be taken with a grain of salt unless it was done by an actual independent lab.

          Looking forward to your tests! I’ve been buying Freedom’s range ammo for years and have never had an issue. It shoots consistent and clean, and it is priced affordably. I’ve never shot any of their XTP’s, just their 9mm, .40, and .45 target loads (both reman & new). It has always shot fine for me. I doubt, unless it ends up duplicating barrier performance of HST through short-barreled 9mm’s, I’d end up changing it as my carry load, but it is always nice to have another option if availability of other loads becomes slim. The more I look at the photo of this load, it sure does look similar to the GD, so it will be interesting to see!

          Thanks for your work and reviews!

        • Jeremy S.,

          There is nothing wrong at all testing with clear gel as long as you disclose the gel type/concentration and temperature. And shooting two or three common factory rounds (such as Hornady Critical Duty, Federal HST, Winchester PDX1, and/or Speer Gold Dot) for reference makes for an extremely useful and relevant test as far as I am concerned.

          Can you seriously try filling the hollowpoint cavity of two or three of the Freedom Munitions cartridges with silicone caulk and see how they perform through whatever clothing test you choose? That is incredibly relevant in my opinion since it would be nice to be able to purchase reliable self-defense ammunition at $0.45 per round rather than $1 per round. If you decide to do that, allow 24 hours for the silicone caulk to set before shooting!

        • Why not. I’ll ask my wife what she’s done with my caulk and if I’m allowed to use it outside of the home and we’ll go from there.

  3. Welp. Fine. I mean, Ol’Hickock45 has Federal feed all the guns he reviews – and that’s why I don’t consider him a valid source for an objective review.
    If this stuff really does perform well in a variety of barrel lengths in calibrated gelatin then… great. Can’t argue with results.
    But it hasn’t. Yet.
    So tread carefully until the results are in.

      • All I can say is I’ve ordered ammo from online vendors for years and almost all get the shipments out in a few days — SGAmmo fills the order the same day and ships overnight for $16/case. Freedom Munitions doesn’t even charge my card for 7-10 days, THEN ships. Usually a two week wait.

        • I used to order from FM, place the order then wait, and wait some more. Never had a problem with their new ammo (somewhere between 6-10k rounds of 9mm/.223. The Armory-dot-com, just across the border gets me ammo in 2 days and at lower cost.

    • Look at the bright side. By then we might have answers on what was wrong with the picture of the Ford Escape on the freeway.

    • One squib and it’s crap ammo? My, tough customer! I have shot thousands of rounds of Freedom Ammo with nary a bobble. Except for its Hornady rounds, all of its pistol ammo has been essentially range/practice FMJ at an extremely reasonable price. True, its Leadville cowboy ammo in .45 Colt is pretty underpowered, but so is everyone else’s. (Hot rounds from producers like Buffalo Bore are very expensive ($1.50/rnd) or handloaded.) The brass they use is top notch.

      • I’ve shot thousands of rounds of other manufacturers and never have had a squib, one box of freedom and I experience my first one. No thanks.

        • I’ve had three from three brands. The last was during the Springfield XD-E review. It was factory ammo from a major U.S. brand. I’ve found a round with no primer in it and only a few grains of powder remaining inside. I’ve found a backwards bullet. I’ve found a handful of rounds with torn brass at the case mouth from the bullet crashing into it while loading. Found LOTS of .22 LR with no priming compound in the rim and plenty with very loose bullets. Encountered lots of dud centerfire pistol primers, though it’s been a while. I had an undersized bullet get shoved down into the case on feeding, which caused a pistol to explode on me.

          Shoot enough and you’ll come across these things. It has happened with every single major manufacturer.

          I have no idea of what their incident rates are and who’s the best and who’s the worst or if they’re mostly the same because they mostly use the same QC equipment. But I’ve had bad rounds from nearly all of them and Google searches will show photos of bad loads and stories of double charges and kabooms from them all. Avoiding cheap reloads will mitigate your chances, but otherwise this is a risk we take as shooters.

          TTAG’s about to put many thousands of rounds of FM downrange, and you’ll hear it if we encounter issues. For the record the IMI ammo ran totally flawlessly for us. Very high opinion of its quality, they just aren’t importing enough calibers into the U.S. to provide us with ammo for review guns.

  4. Freedom Munitions just doesn’t bring anything to the table that Winchester White Box already does, with a better reputation and quality, for the same price.

    I’m just not interested.

    Now, if Freedom Munitions wants to peak my interest, I want a nickel plated aluminum case with a blended polymer/copper bullet for the purposes of reducing the weight of the ammo, yet retaining good and reliable performance.

    • +1 for Winchester white box. After going through half a dozen brands, I only practice with those. Never a problem, not once with either of my pistols and they’re cheap at walmart. Their pdx rounds are nice too, but that’s another discussion.

  5. I personally haven’t even heard of Freedom Munitions. I like what they’re going for, but from what it sounds like, they produce worse ammo than TulAmmo. Is this company that bad, or are people just exaggerating?

    • They entered the market by making very cheap reloads. They were weak and somewhat inconsistent. I used to buy that stuff back in like 2009 and had okay results but not better than cheap steel ammo, which was the same price. I chose the brass reloads over the steel stuff because I could re-sell the brass and recoup some of the cost. I probably shot 8,000 rounds of FM between .380, 9mm, .45, .38 spc, and .223 and I had one bum round (it was all weak and somewhat dirty though).

      Freedom has come a long way since then but the reputation still follows. The stuff today (and I have shot close to 1,000 of their rounds produced in 2017) is a lot cleaner and much more consistent. It still tends to run on the lightly-loaded side of the charge spectrum, but that’s for their range ammo. The hunting-oriented stuff is loaded hotter and the stats on this X-DEF stuff does not suggest light loads.

      We’re going to post an article later this week that I think will surprise everyone on the scale and technology going on at FM these days. I was shocked to learn how large they actually are and how much they manufacture.

        • Federal Premium Hydra-Shock P44HSA 240 JHP
          Gold Dot 23968 270 GDSP
          PMC Starfire 44SFA 240 SFHP
          PMC 44C 240 JHP
          PMC Target 44D 240 TCSP
          Remington Core-Lokt RH44MGA 275 JHP
          Remington RH44MG2 240 SJHP
          Remington RH44MG3 240 JHP
          Remington RH44MG5 180 JHP
          Winchester X44MHSP2 240 JHP
          Winchester X44MSTHP2 210 JHP
          UMC L44MG7 180 JHP


    • I’ve shot thousands of .45ACP & 9mm FM rounds over the years, all factory reloads except for the American Steel, and have never had a problem. Others say they have, but they’ve worked fine for me. Not as accurate as brand name stuff, but it works just fine.

      • The American Steel throws tons of sparks out of my Glock 19. Not sure if I should worry about that but it sure looks cool. I’ve gotten a few looks on the range while shooting it haha.

  6. I have purchased and fired about 10,000 rounds from Freedom. To be honest, I look at it as practice ammo, much of what I purchased is reloaded (being a cheap bastard) and I use their brass credit program since I don’t reload .223 or 9mm. Anyway every single round went bang on demand. No quality issues, but maybe that is more prevalent with less popular calibers where they are constantly changing over machines. The company has been easy to work with. Frankly I prefer to support a small US based company over larger, international companies that seem to dominate the load to middle end. I will read your reviews, I have no issue as long as you disclose financial support.

    • Same here. After my 1st order of 223 and 9mm ran great about three years ago I shelved all of my premium stuff for SHTF and now only buy freedom for practice. I have put thousands of 223 and 9mm and hundreds of 45 acp and 357 down range with no issues. I’m not trying to sugarcoat the stuff because it’s inexpensive and with codes ships for free or very little; its just that In my experience, it works.

    • Me too. Mostly Freedom but also LAX for range ammo. In 9mm alone I’ve shot over 20K of these and had no quality issues. I usually buy 1000-1500 at a time. I will agree with previous commenters about the 44 magnum being more like 44 special. Their website does state that this ammo is designed for revolvers only and may not cycle semi-automatics. I do wish they offered full magnum even if it was new brass only. I will try this new X-DEF and see how it performs.

  7. I would still be buying from Freedom for my range ammo if it wasn’t for California’s Prop 63. So until I find a vendor to have them ship to, I am a sad ex-customer. I went to a lot of different internet brokers, and none could, until recent price drops across the board, match their prices. I would usually wait until the rounds I wanted were on sale with free shipping for orders over $99, and I would get free shipping, no tax, delivered to my door. They have had the best prices on “cowboy” ammo anywhere, and I can reload my .45 colt cases hotter than they sell. I’ve been a fan for maybe the last four or five years, the brass is good quality, and I have never had a squib. Plus it is manufactured in Idaho at a new facility.

    • Mark – right there with you.

      Starting middle of last year, I began shipping in from Freedom to build enough stock to last me until we move to a more friendly state.

      No issues with the product and any communication I had with the company was quick and respectful.

  8. “At at hair under $0.45 per round, Freedom Munition’s new X-DEF is less than (or way less than) half the cost of most self-defense ammo.”

    Could this have anything to do with buying ammo in store? Maybe if you tried ammospy.net or SGammo.com you’d find better deals. But then I guess y’all get free ammo, so being economical is kinda irrelevant.

    • Kinda what I was thinkin…SGA usually has 9mm hst for 40 -42 cents/round before shipping… it’s already fully vetted and reliable in most modern pistols…just one man’s opinion,worth exactly what you paid for it…

    • I bought 1000 Round Case – 9mm Luger +P Federal HST 147 grain hollow point LE ammo P9HST4 – High Pressure – $379.00 from SGAMMO last April.

  9. “don’t tell anyone, we haven’t announced it yet.” No problem.

    On the review of a sponsor issue, disclosure is all I care about. I wouldn’t mind a review that was paid for by the company making the product as long as it was clear that was the situation. You made money, I got some content that I’m going to take with the appropriate amount of salt.

  10. I hope they do sell the projectile itself and that it works as well as my xtp handloads that are always the otc pill everywhere, hopefully price will be cheaper as stated. That way if they are not up to par or consistent we all can hand roll a proper stopper. Also TTAG I’m thinking this is a great move for you guys belay what naysayers think or say keep your results honest and your golden the cost to run that much ammo is a crutch any help specifically ammo is a blessing. Keep it up

  11. Well MAC runs that ammo and I ain’t heard him complain yet. So their range stuff might be good. Personally about the cheapest I go is Armscor, haven’t had issues out of it yet meanwhile I can’t get any of my semi autos to reliably run Aguilla.

      • I usually just run it for plinking ammo, not too worried bout MOA just plinking around. I’ve also never used their rifle ammo the AK gets Red Army standard and the Mini 14 (known world wide for it’s horrendous groups) gets the cheapest steel case I can dig up. For a defensive load I gravitate towards Hornady Critical Defense.

        NOTE: This information excludes the wife’s Ruger New Vaquero in 45 Colt since the only thing usually in stock is Federal American Eagle.

  12. i bought 4 boxes a while back for my carry gun

    9mm 135 grain jhp

    run it in my taurus 24/7 g2 compact
    shot 3 boxes no issues

    put the rest in my mags

    have gone to the range like 4 times the top 3 rounds in all 3 mags all chambered and fired and extracted and everything

    ill probably buy another 4 boxes in a few months and run the same drill

  13. I’ve run plenty of FM both in practice and in comp, not one issue. It’s cheap ammo, you get what you pay for. I live 30min at the most from them, in fact I pass by their location on my way up to my home range.

  14. Looking forward to your tests. 45 cents a round for defensive loads sounds good.

    Is there any word about them producing .38 special for us snubby fans?

    Thanks for the disclosure about them being sponsors. No prob.

  15. $0.45 per round seems a tad high to me. I would think you could get the CCI/Speer Gold Dot 53617 or the Federal P9HST3 or the Remington Golden Saber GS9MMDB, all three 9mm 124gr. +P HP cheaper than that. I know the Federal XM9001 115gr. HP (unmarked +P) is cheaper. And the article says that $450.00/1,000 is half the price of the others?? I find that hard to believe. I would suggest Lucky Gunner in Knoxville or Ammo.com or Sam at Target Sports in Connecticut on line or hit a Gun Show before I would pay $1.00 a round for an unproven load when the rest of the pack (Federal, CCI/Speer, Remington) is all tried and tested and proven and available and cheaper.

  16. I’ve had no problems with nearly 1000 rounds of 9mm.

    From TTAG, simply provide full disclosure up front. People will bitch either way. Can’t keep everybody happy…

    • Yeah, DRT is intriguing. Lone Star Boars has a pretty horrible performance by a .308 load by them.

      I’m still willing to give the 79gr .223 a shot, but only if it gets cheaper and if someone I respect does a legitimate test for it.

  17. If you’re worried about the cost of testing your carry ammo, you shouldn’t be carrying; that stuff will protect your life and no value should be set on that.

    Cheap article.

  18. Cheap and good, passes ballistics/expansion tests? That would be Magtech’s first defense bonded jhp rounds. They’re the unsung hero in the world of defense ammunition. 50 rounds of 9mm are somewhere around $15, they get cheaper as you go up in quantity.

  19. Are you serious TTAG?! Get squared away and drop you sponsor status. Federal HST 9mm can be had at like 0.40 cents a box of 50. Even lower as your quantity goes up. Freedom is absolute garbage. Over the last year prices have hiked across the board two to three cents. Availability on new manufacture is almost non existent. And their emails scream “I’m a cheap bargain Sunday sales paper.” I’ve lost respect for this website. Unbelievable what some will do for sponsorship and free items.

    • TTAG has had ammo sponsors for years. We use the ammo for testing review guns except for accuracy testing, where we try to use three to five different brands and weights. We don’t review the ammo itself. This post was ready prior to any business dealings with FM, if it matters to you. The sponsorship info came later, but I didn’t want to post this without being transparent about that. The rest of the post was created during SHOT Show three weeks ago and just hadn’t been run since other things took priority.

      You may not like the idea of sponsorship stuff, but at least you’ll also get transparency here.

      BTW Federal stopped making HST in 50-round boxes and in the currently-sold 20-round packaging it’s a few cents over a buck a round. I’m not sure how long it’ll remain available in the less expensive 50-round boxes or if that inventory will disappear and that’ll be the end of it or what.

      • Are you sure about that? They’re discontinuing their Federal Premium LE ammo in 50 round boxes? What is Federal going to sell their law enforcement customers? The LE folks aren’t suddenly going to pay 2x (or more) for the same ammo in 20 round packaging.

  20. I have mixed opinions on Freedom Munitions. They used to be a great deal when the big brands were higher priced. Now, I can find new range grade Federal, PMC, PPU, IMI, etc., on sale for the same or a cent or two more per round than Freedom’s reman. stuff. So, I don’t buy Freedom anymore. Their prices are higher than they used to be, and their competitors are lower than they used to be. Also, very slow shipping speed. Ammo is under powered. Often times they don’t have the rounds in stock that I want. And the only two jams (both FTEs) in my Springfield Saint have been Freedom ammo (no problems even with steel cased Russian ammo). For now, I’m choosing other brands.

  21. Well I don’t buy online, but after you all review it and your gun don’t blow up, I’d probably pick up a box if it’s in a gun shop,

  22. I’ve always had good results with ammo from FM.

    No worries about them being sponsors. I would still expect nothing but the truth from TTAG and any reputable company appreciates honest feedback/reviews. Carry on.

  23. I don’t know anything about them. But did they send you a box of ammo without primers??

    Was there powder leaking from the cases??

  24. Bought a few boxes of their X-Def 45 acp 230 grain +P, had a couple of failed to fired. Cases aren’t Nickle plated and velocity is advertised at 875 fps. That’s not 230 grain +P velocity, it’s around 100 fps less my other 45 acp +P ammunition. Price is reasonable, but you get what you paid for.


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