The Benefits of Hornady Defense Ammunition

Revolvers with Hornady Ammo Boxes

Among my favorite types of ammunition for personal defense are those using the Hornady eXtreme Terminal Performance bullet.

The XTP is just one among many Hornady products I use and have confidence in.

Modern handgun bullets have benefited from developing technology, design and materials.

Modern shooters may not realize this, but although the hollow point pistol bullet has been around well over 100 years, performance hasn’t been ideal. Some failed to expand unless they hit a brick wall, others expanded too soon and fragmented.

The bonded-core controlled-expansion bullet is a good choice for personal defense, offering a balance of expansion and penetration.

The recommendation for a handgun bullet for personal defense isn’t something I take lightly.

Hornady Bullet Expansion
The 9mm Critical Defense is among the author’s favorite defense loads.

Defensive Qualifications

A handgun cartridge must be resistant to the elements, feed reliable, and feature a full powder burn.

The full powder burn limits muzzle signature and is a key element of accuracy.

Velocity must be enough, but not so much there is greater recoil and pressure than we really need.

While many loads were developed for the giant law enforcement or military market, reliability is the first concern and penetration is essential.

I have no use for fragmenting or trick bullets.

Ultra high-velocity, ultra-lightweight bullets will underpenetrate or fragment on light obstacles, such as a heavy belt buckle.

The adversary may have his arms extended firing at you. You may not have an easy frontal shot, but a shot in which the bullet must travel at an angle to reach vital organs.

The bullet must penetrate heavy arm bones and reach vital organs. The only predictor of incapacitation is penetration causing blood loss.

Penetration of 16 inches or so is ideal. The bullet should expand to 1.5 inches past its original diameter.

Expanded Hornady Ammo
The Hornady FTX Critical Defense and eXtreme Terminal Performance XTP offer reliable expansion.

Hornady XTP and FTX

While I have the greatest respect for the XTP bullet, there are other choices.

The Hornady Critical Duty load recently won the prestigious FBI 9mm ammunition contract. Accuracy is excellent.

The loading demonstrated exceptional performance in clothing penetration tests as well as sheet-metal penetration.

Hornady left behind standard bonded-core technology using a hollow point and designed a bonded core with a deep sump and a polymer nose insert. This results in consistent expansion, even after penetrating barriers. The nose simply will not clog with material and fail to expand.

The Critical Duty loading is my choice among Hornady defense ammunition loads for use in longer-barrel handguns such as the SIG P226 or GLOCK 17.

In most concealed carry handguns with barrels as short as three inches, the Critical Defense loading is a better choice.

The Critical Defense load is the original Hornady polymer nose FTX design.

The nose plug is an aid in instigating expansion even after penetrating heavy clothing.

The Critical Defense is available in a wide range of calibers from .380 ACP to .45 Colt, while the Critical Duty is offered in service calibers.

An overlooked and very effective loading, as an example, is the .357 Magnum Critical Duty.

1911 pistol and hornady ammo
Hornady’s 2000grain .45 ACP XTP is among the author’s favorite loads.

Hornady Handgun Ammo

The XTP remains a useful loading with excellent performance in calibers from .32 ACP to .44 Magnum.

The 250-grain XTP for those handloading the .45 Colt is an outstanding bullet, accurate with good performance.

The XTP features a bonded core that bonds the jacket to the lead core.

I have loaded the 90-grain XTP to 1,600 fps in the .38 Super, as an example, without fragmentation. The bullet stays together and expands.

The 9mm 124-grain XTP is among the best balanced and most accurate loads in a wide variety of handguns.

The 200-grain XTP is a favored loading in the .45 ACP. I have never fired this load in any pistol without excellent accuracy and performance. 

Shotgun and Hornady Defense Ammunition
When you need a reliable shotgun load with a tight pattern for maximum effect at personal-defense ranges, the Hornady Critical Defense is an outstanding choice.

Hornady Shotgun Ammo

Not content to master the pistol ammunition category and rest on their laurels, Hornady developed impressive 12-gauge shotgun loads.

The Critical Defense features an eight-pellet loading that has proven reliable in self-loading shotguns.

Automatic shotguns need a good balance of velocity and payload to function reliably. The Critical Defense loading offers consistent results.

In a self-defense loading, you do not want a wide dispersion of pellets.

You want a cohesive array of hits, tightly centered on target, well past 15 yards to cover every scenario.

Hornady’s Critical Defense and the new Hornady Black shotgun shells solve a lot of problems.

Hornady Defense Ammunition Rifle Ammo
Hornady’s Critical Defense .308 is an ideal all-around defense/protection load for .30-caliber rifles.

Hornady Rifle Ammo

FTX technology has translated well to rifles. The Hornady 155-grain Critical Defense is the outstanding personal defense load in the .308 rifle.

Whether you use an AR-10, Scout Rifle or Springfield M1A, Critical Defense offers excellent real-world expansion, reliable feed and good accuracy.

The 55-grain .223 Remington loading is an ideal choice for use in a defensive AR-15 rifle.

The Hornady lineup, from the various XTP loads, the .22 Magnum Critical Defense, up to the .308 Winchester and .45 ACP loadings, offer first-class reliability and accuracy.

Effect on target is designed in every case to offer a good balance of expansion and penetration.

These loads are ammunition you can bet you life on.

What is your favorite type of Hornady defense ammunition? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. Have used Hornady critical defense for many years in a number of calibers, happily. Recently switched to Black hills honey badger in some calibers. Might be my imagination, but seems more accurate and lighter recall. Would love to see a side by side full review of these two great rounds.
    Thanks for all your past articles.

  2. I have loaded with the XTP for my Glock 23 now for a while. I find that the 180 grain with CFE pistol powder gives me a clean burn and accurate shot placement.

    One added advantage is by also loading the 180 grain HAP as my practice round, (HAP is exactly the same as the XTP but without the canulars), then I am basically practicing with what I will be shooting, so I know how MY weapon is going to do, if I ever have the need to use it.

    I have not had a chance to load with the FTX yet, but plan to at some point. But I can attest to the accuracy, (and claim of expansion), which translates into proper stopping power.

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