Black Talon and Today’s Best Self-Defense Ammo

Picture shows a handgun round with shiny case and a black bullet.

Quite a few years ago, an IDPA shooter handed me a shiny silver cartridge with a black bullet and said, “Don’t lose this. It’s a Black Talon.” I had no idea what he meant, but he sure looked and sounded serious, so I nodded my head, gave my thanks and accepted the gift. Not exactly sure what to do with one round none of my guns could eat at the time, the Black Talon was soon forgotten and lost in the black hole I call a car. If you are as clueless as I was, the Black Talon is a self-defense round manufactured by Winchester in the early 90s.

Picture shows a handgun round with shiny case and a black bullet.
Even now, people still claim Black Talon were the best defensive round and search for the modern day equivalent.

I missed a lot in the 90s. I lived in countries where citizens could not own firearms and therefore I was pretty much out of the loop when it came to American gun control and gun laws. By the time I moved back to the States and started shooting again, new stories and legends long surpassed talk of the Black Talon. I had no idea I was sitting on a collectable round that now sells for close to $100 a box.

Introduced at the 1991 SHOT Show, Winchester’s Black Talon was the ammo company’s answer for a more effective self-defense bullet demanded by the FBI following the 1986 Miami Firefight. In a shootout with two bank robbers—William Matix and Michael Platt—eight FBI agents, mainly armed with .357 Magnum revolvers loaded with .38 Special went up against Matix and Platt armed with .223 Remington rifles and shotguns. Despite being riddled with bullet holes from the FBI, Platt was able to continue firing back. In the end of the nearly five-minute shootout, five FBI agents were wounded and two—Jerry Dove and Benjamin Grogan—were killed.

The FBI agents had loaded jacketed hollow point bullets into their firearms. However, after medical examiners performed autopsies on the bank robbers’ bodies, it was discovered that one bullet stopped just less than an inch from the heart. John Hall, FBI Firearms Training Unit Director at the time called the tragedy “an ammo failure.” The aftermath encouraged the FBI to seek new guns, more effective ammunition and set precedence for the FBI’s protocol on ammunition evaluation and testing. For ammo to pass FBI protocol, it must meet a minimum of 12 inches of penetration in ballistics gelatin, but no more than 18 inches and penetrate clothing including heavy jackets, denim and leather.

Black Talon has a black bullet with six serrations at the nose seated on a shiny nickel-plated cartridge. The round is a traditional hollow point bullet, but with a then-innovative “reverse taper” (the bullet jacket is thicker at the tip than at the base) and a Lubalox—not Teflon—coating. The Black Talon, like all hollow point bullets, opens up (commonly called expansion or mushrooming) when it hits soft tissue. What sets the Black Talon apart is its six sharp pointy edges. At the time, Winchester’s Black Talon was one of, if not the most effective self-defense round you could buy.

When a hollow point bullet hits a soft target, it mushrooms out to what looks like a flower with petals. This creates a wider wound channel. The Black Talon’s petals look more like… well… talons, essentially making the wound channel even wider. The wider wound channel makes the round more likely to stop a threat—something usually referred to as “knockdown power”—when compared to other hollow point rounds. In fact, for the first two years Black Talon was on the market, it received an award from Shooting Industry magazine. Even now, people still claim Black Talon was the best defensive round and search for its modern day equivalent.

Picture shows a .40 S&W round next to a hollow point bullet already shot.
When a hollow point bullet hits a soft target, it mushrooms out to what looks like a flower with petals.

Winchester pulled it in 1993 and permanently discontinued the ammo in 2000. Due to all of the controversy, the Black Talon has now become a notorious legend of almost mythical proportions.

Two high-profile mass shootings in 1993 led to the Black Talon’s demise. In December, Colin Ferguson killed six people and injured 19 more on a train in New York. Supposedly, he loaded his handgun with Black Talon. Seven months later, Gian Luigi Ferri loaded his gun with Black Talon and open fired in a law office in San Francisco, California, killing nine people. Gun grabbers jumped at the chance to push their anti-gun agenda. Time magazine described the Black Talon as a bullet “designed to unsheathe its claws once inside the victim’s body and tear it to pieces.” A surgeon in Houston said Black Talon “explode inside a person like a thousand razor blades.” The media called it exotic and “designed to do greater damage than ordinary ammunition.” Many politicians called for an outright ban on Black Talon ammunition. Even a family member of a victim from the New York shooting attempted to sue Olin Corporation for the manufacture, sale and marketing of Winchester’s Black Talon ammo.

The gun community is all too familiar with the lies and language of fear from the media and anti-gun politicians. Those knowledgeable about guns and ammunition know that a Black Talon isn’t any more deadly than other hollow points, just like an AR-15 isn’t any more deadly than a Remington Model 700. Nevertheless, Winchester still buckled to the pressure and in 2000 discontinued the Black Talon, albeit in name only.

Winchester repackaged and renamed the round throughout the years. Introduced in 2007, the Ranger T Series is still available for purchase today. The Ranger SXT is the same bullet without the Lubalox coating. Some say that SXT stands for the “same exact thing.” If you are desperate to get your hands on the original Black Talon, you can find it online, but at a jacked up price. However, not many would recommend spending the money unless you are a collector or a sucker for nostalgia. Black Talon, though innovative and groundbreaking back in the day, is nearly 25 years old. Bullet innovation, invention and design have come a long way baby and there are plenty of effective, accurate, reliable and better self-defense rounds available today.

For a round very similar to the old Black Talon, check out the Winchester Ranger series or the PDX1—though both are difficult to find. Remington will never tell you this, but those in the know say Remington’s Golden Saber has petals designed to expand the same way as Black Talon. A great go-to self-defense round in any caliber is the Speer Gold Dot. For 9mm or .45 ACP, try Hornady Critical Duty. In addition, some recommend the Federal HST. On the more expensive side, the Cor-Bon solid copper DPX in any caliber is a also good self-defense round. Buffalo Bore ammunition also loads this solid copper Barnes bullet in some of its calibers.

What is your favorite self-defense round? Tell us what it is and why in the comment section.

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 (43)

  1. The Federal HST rounds have the backing of the FBI. There is a lot to be said for that kind of recommendation.

    Consider if you will, actually using the “Black Talon” or its equivalent. While standing in the courtroom trying to plead “Self-Defense” when a sharp anti-gun D.A. points to a box of the “Cop Killer” bullets that you used. That D.A. will make the case that you were just looking for a chance to use them! A jury of your peers, and not a knowledgeable jury with respect to ammunition, will hear those words “He loaded those Cop Killer Bullets into his gun and just waited for the chance to use them.” Your claim of “Self-Defense” now becomes “premeditated murder!” For the prestige of having and carrying the bullets that “rip apart the insides after passing through a bulletproof vest” instead you have become the evil gun owner. They have taken your home, your job, your savings, your family, and even your friends from you. Trust me, those friends have no intention of visiting you in prison. On the other hand, using the bullets that the FBI uses becomes a prudent choice and a case that the D.A. cannot easily destroy. “The leading Government Policing Agency” after a lot of testing and searching has decided that this is the bullet that they will carry with them to protect you from the evil that prowls the night.”

    We have to consider that in just about every courtroom, especially the courtroom of public opinion, we are not the “good guys.” Just look at what happened to that promised “red tide” that was going to overwhelm the Senate, the House, and every Governor’s Office from Maine to Arizona. Yes there are a whole lot of new gun owners since 2019. But it seems that they maybe more “Gun Owner In Name Only.” I still see students in my Concealed Carry Classes who buy the gun, get the permit, then put the thing up on a shelf in the closet never to be seen again. They never worry about what holster to buy as they have no intention of ever carrying “that thing.” It is as if they are just going through the motions, putting a check in a box on some fanciful list somewhere: Go to the store and get bread, eggs, paint the garage, buy a gun, wash the car …

    We have to portray an image of conscientious awareness to go along with our situational awareness. It has to be just as sharp and just as prepared. Anything that we do that appears to be “overboard” just gives the “antis” one more bullet to use against US!

    So, stop giving them ammo! Everytime a Good Guy with a Gun does the right thing, the media never mentions it. But try a self-defense plea with cop killer bullets. You will have so many people reading and hearing about you that you will think that you are famous or something. The real truth is that you will be in-famous.

  2. Pilgrim ammunition located in Sarasota Florida makes terrific self defense rounds. They make and sell 9mm ammunition and plenty of other calibers. An example is a 9mm 50 grain JHP that has a velocity of 2000 Ft per second! Yes, 2000 ft per second and they ship the ammunition to your door. I absolutely love this ammunition.

  3. I personally used to use federal hydroshock mainly because that’s what was available to me and what I was used to until watching some videos on YouTube about the g2 research rip rounds and the underwood extreme defender rounds.the rip rounds do kinda look impressive but at the same time don’t look to me like they would have much of a the underwood on the other hand I’ve seen go through a class 2 vest and still penetrate 16″ of ballistic gel leaving a wound cavity thats just massive and that was only a 9mm round.ordered both brands recently and plan on testing them out for myself especially since they’re only 115grain rounds in a 40cal which is what my cc cal is.curious to see if I can get the same results penetrating diff barriers such as drywall,plywood,glass,sheet metal and a vest with a 40cal opposed to the 9mm in video.have a strong feeling that my new carry round will be the underwood extreme defender though.pray i never have to use one in defense but if i do i don’t think anything or anyone would still be standing after getting hit with a extreme defender round.

  4. I really like Hornady ammunition but like several that I know along with others that have commented having the same results with Hornady Critical Duty/Defense not expanding as it should, have switched to Federal HST rounds for EDC. The Hornady TAP isn’t a bad round either but I still lean towards Federal ammunition, the Hydra-Shock Deep is a good round as well. Speer Gold Dot is a fantastic round and another I haven’t tried but heard good things about it the Underwood/Lehigh ammunition. I bought a few boxes of what was then called Halo rounds which are now sold under the name Civil Liberty ammunition after Microsoft sued them over copyright issues because of the video game Halo. Those are decent rounds as well, I wish I kept the boxes as I have seen them on eBay fetching a pretty good price….just for the box! Other than the collectibility of the Black Talon, the author is definitely right about other ammunition being just as good and some even being close to identical just by a different name (I like the SXT round reference….same exact

  5. I shoot 10mm and .357Sig…. almost always light Noslers (135gr in 10mm, 115gr in .357 Sig) from Underwood Ammo. The 10mm’s travel at 1600fps with 767fp of muzzle energy, the .357 Sig’s travel at 1550fps at 614fp’s muzzel energy.

    Here’s why. Shooters tend to drift toward shot placement and wound channel specs in defensive shooting. Most completely ignore the second consideration……hydrostatic or hydraulic shock. A hollow-point that hits with over 500fp creates enough hydrostatic compression of the vascular system (regardless of the placement) to cause capillaries in the brain to burst. If you compress the blood vessels in the body enough, the blood ruptures vessels at the weakest point.

    People shoot poorly under stress. I’ve seen enough well-practiced shooters fail in a simulator to validate this (at least for me). I was pretty bad at first, too. So, the point is, a shooter in a high stress defensive situation may not hit well, so any hit needs to count. If the round carries enough energy into the hit area (say, the lower side torso for example) the vascular system will experience massive compression leading to burst blood vessels in the brain. Even if the attacker is only disoriented and not completely down, you have an immediate advantage.

  6. I generally test new bullets to see how they expand through barriers one is likely to encounter. A strange thing happened when I shot multiple Hornady Critical Duty rounds through ordinary pine lumber 2×4’s, backed by sand/clay. From a Glock 27, I noted that EVERY SINGLE ROUND became clogged by the soft pine and completely failed to expand. Hence, I tend to use Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, Ranger Talons/PDX1 as EDC rounds… I would ask others to try firing the otherwise well-conceived Critical Defense round through 2-4″ of lumber to see if the nose also becomes clogged with soft would, preventing expansion entirely…

  7. I still have 10mm Black Talons for my Glock 20 (Gen 1) and S&W model 1006. I bought them before they were not so infamous. I only fired one magazine, but I still remember the reaction at the range as an overly large flame and extremely loud bang provoked extreme interest from the other shooters. Some were enthralled by the black bullets and wanted to examine them closely. Luckily, 10mm handguns were new and not many shooters had them. Everyone there was shooting 9mm or 38 SPL/357 magnums. I told them they could ooo and aaah at their own discretion as I collected the loose rounds. I packed up my gear and left. I’m still missing one round.

    1. They sell for $50-$75 around. Mostly because they are 25 years old and other companies are reproducing them under different name for as low as $18


  8. One of my Favorite self defense Ammo is 9mm 105gr Controlled Fracture Ammo, because of its accuracy

  9. Problem here is that in the LE business the females cannot qualify with the 10MM I would think. I remember when we moved from 38 to 9mm then 40 caliber everything revolved around this in round choice then the old group so wrapped up in collateral damage from over penetration that we always wound up with under powered ammo such as the Black Talon later renamed Ranger I guess.
    To the comment that the Black Talon did not fail you would be incorrect. Having been in several shootings the defender should expect more than zero penetration on a K5 40 caliber hit. Even the old snub nosed 38 with plus P ammo would shoot through a persons torso at close range. Problem with the short bbl. was no expansion although you are correct that the body can keep going with a lot of punishment. When firing at someone firing back rest assured you want everything to end quick or sooner or later you will catch a round.

  10. I once worked at a large LEO pistol & rifle range for several years. I had the chance to see countless 1,000s of spent rounds in all calibers & brands carried by LEOs…. which includes rounds from both semi-autos & wheel guns. Plus I saw rounds that had been recovered from a number of officer involved shootings. For personal carry. I decided on a Glock 27 .40 caliber loaded with Hornady Critical Duty. After only approx. 1-1 1/2″ of penetration the round is usually expanded to about .45+ with jagged petals that cut for about 12″. Even if you don’t hit a major organ like the heart… a couple of large jagged holes into & out of a person’s lungs will cause them to immediately experience collapsed lungs, considerable pain and difficultly inhaling. They tend to kinda lose interest in doing anything else than try to breath after that.

  11. Talon Defense | Laatuasunnot-The black talon round ddi not fail what failed was you used a handgun and the average human can take many hand gun rounds before stopping. Why ? They lack the velocity to do massive tissue damage and make the blood pressure drop fast.

  12. I have personally used Black Talon ammo in a 40 Cal Glock and can tell you first hand that it lacks important penetration on impact. I shot a male approx. 200 lbs. at about 25 feet and while one round hit dead center chest it failed to end the gun fight. While the suspect was wearing only a T shirt the round penetrated the sternum and failed to enter into the vital organs. Now additional rounds that struck muscle tissue did major tissue destruction and one in the arm shattered the bone and almost severed the arm ending the battle and even that round failed to exit.
    A word of caution is that while this individual had dropped his weapon a fled a short distance I ordered the poor agonizing suspect hand cuffed. The other Officer reluctantly did so. When he was hand cuffed and moved a second weapon had been in his good hand.

    1. John;
      Thank you for your service! You are 100% correct, that expansion is nice in preventing over penetration, but it is correct penetration that wins the fight. Rapidly expanding projectiles help to ensure that all of the energy able to be summoned up by a pistol caliber will remain in its primary target. But affecting vital structure is what causes an interruption in aggression. One must rapidly cause a loss of blood pressure or break bones. Ideally both! I listened to a career paramedic say ” If someone must be shot, shoot them a lot, because the human body can endure a great deal of damage and remain in the fight ” You sir, have experienced that first hand!
      Just my $.02 after thirty years as a trainer…..

    2. Just another reason why 9mm is a doubtful choice for self defense, even though CTD touts this caliber to the max.

      I believe that strong 10mm ammo (not the watered down stuff) can solve this problem.

  13. I know that Underwood Ammo sells some pretty nasty rounds called Controlled Fracture rounds. They make them in many different calibers and seeing what they do in a block of gel is amazing. They are continually coming out with them in new calibers. I am currently waiting on the 40 S&W round to come out. It is my new go-to round for home defense. Underwood is the only thing that i trust to keep my wife and kids safe when I am not at home.

  14. Glock 30 Gold dot 200 gr +P / Critical Duty 220 gr +P / HST 230 gr +P
    Glock 23 Gold dot 165 gr / HST 180 gr / Silver Tips 155 gr
    Glock 26 Hornady Critical Defense / Gold dot 115 gr / Barnes TAC 115 +P
    XDS 45 Hornady Critical Defense / Golden Saber 185 gr
    Glock 32 Gold dot 125 gr
    Glock 19 HST 124 +P / Critical Duty 135 gr +P
    S&W 637 Remington 158 gr LHP +P / Gold dot 125 +P
    Glock 21 Hornady XTP 230 gr +P / Ranger 230 +P

  15. Winchester got burned by its own marketing hype on Black Talon, when criminal misuse of the product fueled media hysterics over bullets that deploy “flesh-ripping claws”. The points of the “claws” are actually the result of the geometry of the copper jacket being inside the nose cavity and subsequently turned inside-out on impact. They don’t really contribute very much to tissue damage. If you have a mushroomed slug driven into your chest, you won’t feel any better if that slug is all blunt around the edges; the wound channel will still be a shredded mess with blunt jacket petals protruding from the edges of the slug.

    Legend has it that some surgeons found the sharp edges of the “claws” created a job hazard for them when they would probe a wound and tear open their rubber gloves on the sharp points.

    PDX-1 looks the same on expansion as the BT, except now the “claws” are filled in with lead because PDX-1 is a bonded bullet, which is a superior design to the non-bonded BT.

    Wal-Marts in my area stock PDX-1 all the time. I have tested the PDX-1 in .45ACP and found that it needs at least 4″ of bbl. to work with. A 5″ 1911 gave the most impressive-looking bullet expansion I’ve ever seen. A 3.5″ Kahr failed to expand a round from the same box, and the bullet behaved like ball ammo. A 4″ Sig and a 4.5″ S&W both worked well. Don’t use PDX-1 .45ACP in a short barrel!

    Speer Gold Dot is a .45ACP that will give some kind of decent expansion in short barrels, even with 230-grain loads. I even had one work OK from a 2.5″ bbl. But the Kahr works best with the 200-grain Gold Dot; an ideal load for that gun.

    The Hornady Critical defense .45ACP also works in a short bbl., and so does Remington Golden Saber .45ACP, as long as you go light-for-caliber. Both of these are non-bonded, so they both have some jacket separation at the nose. And the Golden Sabers that I fired did NOT have any pointed jacket petals; they were of a blunt shape.

  16. I met Mr. Mireles after his recovery. We were operating a Advanced Combat Survival course (TAMU). He was incredibly informative. He spoke in detail of the “Shoot Out” to our students. Wonderful !!! He thought our use of Ranger
    +p+ was definitly the right direction. I was honored to meet him 4 more times. I choose to carry Ranger/Ranger+p+.when I carry 9mm.

  17. Sgt Rivers several months after the event started to do or was requested to speak about that entire event and did so both at the training Academy as well as to different agencies both locally and then nationally over time.

    The events that day as others pointed out were a series of just flat out bad luck with glasses getting knocked off, weapons getting tossed out of vehicles bullets just stopping shot of being fatal upon impact plus they (the agents) were going up against. 223 rounds.

    Regardless however after that day & event, we in south as Leo’s began changing from 38 revolvers to semi autos… First to 9MM then eventually to 40 call semi with JHP rounds. Plus backups which we had to qualify with and had to be department approved.

    Regardless it was a tragic, horrific day in south Florida in particular that day as well as law enforcement in general.

    Every time I see reference to that shootout it takes me back to that day.

    It just makes one realize when your shift began you never knew what may happen…

  18. The ultimate demise of this round was the LE community nicknaming it ” Black Felon ” ammo. Once that was made public the round died an instant death.

  19. I choose to carry Critical Duty in my G23 & 27. Expansion in gelatin blocks starts within 1/2-1″ of entry and leaves a approx. 4-6″ diameter wound cavity about 10″ long. It is a very devastating looking wound channel.

  20. Weaponry and injuries[edit]

    Richard Manauzzi: lost control of weapon in the initial vehicle collision, no shots fired. Minor injuries from shotgun pellets.[8]
    Gordon McNeill: Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum revolver, six rounds .38 Special +P fired. Seriously injured by .223 gunshot wounds to the right hand and neck.
    Edmundo Mireles: Remington M870 12-gauge shotgun, five rounds 00 buckshot fired, .357 Magnum revolver, Smith & Wesson Model 686 (despite not being FBI-issue), six rounds .38 Special +P fired. Seriously injured by a .223 gunshot wound to the left forearm.
    Gilbert Orrantia: S&W (model unknown, likely a Model 13, as it was an issued weapon at the time) .357 Magnum revolver, 12 rounds .38 Special +P fired. Injured by shrapnel and debris produced by a .223 bullet near miss.
    John Hanlon: Smith & Wesson Model 36 .38 Special revolver, 2-inch barrel, five rounds .38 Special +P fired. Seriously injured by .223 gunshot wounds to the right hand and groin.
    Benjamin Grogan: Smith & Wesson Model 459 9mm pistol, nine rounds fired. Killed by a .223 gunshot wound to the chest.
    Jerry Dove: Smith & Wesson Model 459 9mm pistol, 20+ rounds fired. Killed by two .223 gunshot wounds to the head.
    Ronald Risner: Smith & Wesson Model 459 9mm pistol, 14 rounds fired, S&W Model 60 .38 Special revolver, one round .38 Special +P fired. Uninjured.

    William Matix: Smith & Wesson Model 3000 12-gauge shotgun, one round #6 shot fired. Killed after being shot six times.
    Michael Platt: Ruger Mini-14 .223 Remington with folding stock, at least 42 rounds fired, S&W M586 .357 Magnum revolver, three rounds fired, Dan Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, three rounds fired. Killed after being shot 12 times.

    Taken from Wikipedia

  21. Were either Platt or Matix ex-military? What type of background did they have that allowed them to use their weapons with such evil proficiency?

    1. Yes. They actually became friends in the Army. Before that Matix had already served in the Marines, then went Army. Platt also served with the the Rangers in Nam where he gained his combat experience.

  22. I second and add my own thumbs up to G-Mans comments in praise of this article by Suzanne. This is as close to a perfect Comprehensive Readers Digest version, in the “45 words or less format” of the complete facts and points of interes as one could ask for! Great read, all the correct info in the correct order and on point and subject. Wish I could write this well!
    I’m a proponent of all munitions that are topped wth Barns bullets. With great BC, excellent expansion values, and very high weight retention, these solid copper “pills” serve across the spectrum of rifle and pistol platforms and their associated libary of targets requirments. I actually prefer them to the Golden Sabor offering because of their overall consistant expansion values but that’s just me and should not be considered a negative comment on the excellent GS round.
    A great Sunday morning read! Thanks Suzanne.

  23. As Platt climbed out of the passenger side car window, one of Dove’s 9 mm rounds hit his right upper arm and went on to penetrate his chest, stopping an inch away from his heart. The autopsy found Platt’s right lung had collapsed and his chest cavity contained 1.3 liters of blood, suggesting damage to the main blood vessels of the right lung. Of his many gunshot wounds, this first was the primary injury responsible for Platt’s eventual death.[12] The car had come to a stop against a parked vehicle, and Platt had to climb across the hood of this vehicle, an Oldsmobile Cutlass. As he did so, he was shot a second and third time, in the right thigh and left foot. The shots were believed to have been fired by Dove.[13]

    Platt took up position by the passenger side front fender of the Cutlass. He fired a .357 Magnum revolver at agents Ronald Risner and Gilbert Orrantia, and was shot a fourth time when turning to fire at Hanlon, Dove and Grogan. The bullet, fired by Risner or Orrantia, penetrated Platt’s right forearm, fractured the radius bone and exited the forearm. This wound caused Platt to drop his revolver.[14] It is estimated that Platt was shot a fifth time shortly afterwards, this time by Risner. The bullet penetrated Platt’s right upper arm, exited below the armpit and entered his torso, stopping below his shoulder blade. The wound was not serious.[15]

    Platt fired one round from his Mini-14 at Risner and Orrantia’s position, wounding Orrantia with shrapnel created by the bullet’s passage, and two rounds at McNeill. One round hit McNeill in the neck, causing him to collapse and leaving him paralyzed for several hours. Platt then apparently positioned the Mini-14 against his shoulder using his uninjured left hand.[16]

    Dove’s 9 mm pistol was rendered inoperative after being hit by one of Platt’s bullets. Hanlon fired at Platt and was shot in the hand while reloading. Grogan and Dove were kneeling alongside the driver’s side of their car. Both were preoccupied with getting Dove’s gun working and did not detect that Platt was aggressively advancing upon them. Platt rounded the rear of their car and killed Grogan with a shot to the chest, shot Hanlon in the groin area, and then killed Dove with two shots to the head. Platt then entered the Grogan/Dove car in an apparent attempt to flee the scene.[17] As Platt entered Grogan and Dove’s car, Mireles, able to use only one arm, fired the first of five rounds from his pump-action shotgun, wounding Platt in both feet.[8] At an unknown time, Matix had regained consciousness and he joined Platt in the car, entering via the passenger door. Mireles fired four more rounds at Platt and Matix, but hit neither.[18]

    Around this time, Metro-Dade police officers Rick Frye, Leonard Figueroa and Martin Heckman arrived. Heckman covered McNeill’s paralyzed body with his own.[19] Frye assisted Hanlon.[20]

    Platt’s actions at this moment in the fight have been debated. A civilian witness described Platt leaving the car, walking almost 20 feet and firing at Mireles three times at close range. Mireles does not remember this happening. Officer Heckman does not remember Platt leaving the Grogan/Dove car. Risner and Orrantia, observing from the other side of the street, stated that they did not see Platt leave the car and fire at Mireles.[21] However, it is known for certain that Platt pulled Matix’s Dan Wesson revolver at some point and fired three rounds.[16][22]

    Platt attempted to start the Grogan/Dove car. Mireles drew his .357 Magnum revolver, moved parallel to the street and then directly toward Platt and Matix. Mireles fired six rounds at the suspects. The first round missed, hitting the back of the front seat. The second hit the driver’s side window post and fragmented, with one small piece hitting Platt in the scalp. The third hit Matix in the face, and fragmented in two, with neither piece causing a serious wound. The fourth hit Matix in the face next to his right eye socket, travelled downward through the facial bones, into the neck, where it entered the spinal column and severed the spinal cord. The fifth hit Matix in the face, penetrated the jaw bone and neck and came to rest by the spinal column.[23] Mireles reached the driver’s side door, extended his revolver through the window, and fired his sixth shot at Platt. The bullet penetrated Platt’s chest and bruised the spinal cord, ending the gunfight.[24]

    The shootout involved ten people: two suspects and eight FBI agents. Of the ten, only one, Special Agent Manauzzi, did not fire any shots (his firearm was thrown from car in the initial collision), while only one, Special Agent Risner, was able to emerge from the battle without a wound. The incident lasted under five minutes yet approximately 145 shots were exchanged.[8][25]

    Toxicology tests showed that the abilities of Platt and Matix to fight through multiple traumatic gunshot wounds and continue to battle and attempt to escape were not achieved through any chemical means. Both of their bodies were drug-free at the time of their deaths.[26]

    Information from Wikipedia

  24. Of the eight agents at the scene, two had Ithaca Model 37 shotguns in their vehicles (McNeill and Mireles), three were armed with semi-automatic Smith & Wesson Model 459 9mm pistols (Dove, Grogan, and Risner), and the rest were armed with Smith & Wesson revolvers. Two of the agents had backup revolvers (Hanlon and Risner) and both would use them at some point during the fight.

    The initial collision that forced the suspects off the road caused some unforeseen problems for the agents, as the FBI vehicles sustained damage from the heavier, older car driven by Matix.[8] Just prior to ramming the Monte Carlo, Manauzzi had pulled out his service revolver and placed it on the seat in anticipation of a shootout,[8] but the force of the collision flung open his door and sent his weapon flying. Hanlon lost his .357 Magnum service revolver during the initial collision, though he was still able to fight with his Smith & Wesson Model 36 backup gun. The collision knocked off Grogan’s glasses, and there is speculation his vision was so bad that he was unable to see clearly enough to be effective. (A claim disputed by the FBI’s Medical Director, who stated that Grogan’s vision was “not that bad”.) Grogan, however, is credited with landing the first hit of the gunfight, wounding Matix in the forearm as he leaned out of the Monte Carlo to fire the shotgun at Grogan and Dove.[9]

    Manauzzi was wounded when Platt fired several rounds from his Ruger Mini-14 rifle that penetrated the door of Manauzzi’s car. McNeill fired over the hood of Manauzzi’s car but was wounded by return fire from Platt’s Ruger Mini-14 rifle. Platt then fired his rifle at Mireles who was running across the street to join the fight. Mireles was hit in the left forearm, creating a severe wound.[8] Platt then pulled back from the window, giving Matix opportunity to fire. Due to collision damage, Matix could only open his door partially, and fired one shotgun round at Grogan and Dove, striking their vehicle. Matix was then shot in the right forearm, probably by Grogan.[10] McNeill returned fire with six shots from his revolver, hitting Matix with two rounds in the head and neck. Matix was apparently knocked unconscious by the hits and fired no more rounds.[11] McNeill was then shot in the hand and, due to his wound and blood in his revolver’s chambers, could not reload.[8]

    Information taken from Wilipedia

  25. Also, the photo of the mushroomed bullet with 2 layers of petals is totally radical and cool and wicked!! What type of bullet if that? I need a bunch of those!!

  26. Excellent article!

    Wow that’s really intelligent for FBI agents to have 38 specials inside 357 revolvers, huh?

    Is Federal HST still available?

    In today’s offerings, I feel that the most important thing is guaranteed quick expansion, because the FPS on pistols is nowhere near a rifle.

    Does anyone have any comments on the Nosler Jacketed Hollow Point versus the XTP? Both are offered on the Underwood website which I like to go to.

  27. @ CTD Suzanne: As a Federal LEA I know quite well the 1986 Miami scenario and its ramifications towards the major changes it brought in all law enforcement and the overall industry at a National perspective. I am also well versed in the Black Talon and its complete run in history to the point that I own some for posterity sake.

    With that, I wanted to take the time to compliment you on one of the best written articles to have ever covered this topic. Past works have been authored to cover only the major talking points in your article, and were forced to do so only as distinctly separate stories due to the sheer volume of information involved; however, you managed to blend the entire history of each topic into one very well written article that is somehow brief, yet able to maintain excellent continuity without missing any of the most important facts. This is simply a brilliant piece of work. My hat is off to you.

  28. The infamous “FBI Miami shootout”…

    I was on duty that morning in Miami and heard it go down on my police radio… Since it was being dispatch County wide as it was happening…

    I went to Jerry Dove’s funeral….

    After that day and event and listening to Sgt Dave Rivers who was in charged of MDPD crime scene unit give a detailed account of the events that took place and all the things that happened surrounding it I vowed I would let myself be “outgunned”…

    I went to carrying a 40 cal Sig plus a backup and even 2 shotguns in my unit.

    After that shooting I never took anything for granted again.

    Even today as I re-stock my armory of weapons I do so based on the events of that day.

    No one weapon will ever be enough in my mind.

  29. I carry a descendant of the Black Talon, Q4364. It’s Winchester ra9b, the b is for bonded, made for the feds. I have a box of sxt, but chose the bonded version for performance through auto glass.

    If you want either round, SGAmmo has plenty at decent prices.

    I chose my Rangers because they’re on the FBI approved list, and they were the cheapest. Anything on that list should do the trick. Golden Sabers are on the list too.

  30. The CorBon DPX is too hot (in my opinion) for self defense in a small home where if you shoot thru wall A, you hit your son, and if you shoot thru wall B, well there’s you daughter. I own a lot of the DPX and EDC it, but those magazines don’t go aanywhere near my nightstand. For that job I switch over to the blue ball tipped Glaser Safety Slugs, still sold by CorBon. The little blue ball keeps the hollow point from clogging, and when it opens it’s like an itty bitty shotgun shell, full of balls. MUCH safer for firing in a small home. My absolute favorite based on my tests, their tests, and the awesome pic that shows the bullet cut in half, revealingt he load of balls.

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