Most of my handguns are all around-do-anything-go-anywhere handguns. I most often carry a Commander-size 1911 .45, although sometimes carry a .40 or .45 caliber SIG pistol. When hiking, or in an area where large animals might be a threat, a four-inch barrel Magnum revolver is on hand. These handguns are versatile, accurate and, most of all, reliable.
There are specialized types of ammunition featuring low penetration for use in home defense and others that feature deep penetration. Some ammunition is designed to break up on metal surfaces and still others designed for target-grade accuracy. When I deploy a pistol for serious use, it is often loaded with ammunition using the XTP bullet.
Hornady, or another reputable maker, may put up the load. Or I may have loaded it myself even though it is not a single-purpose load. The ammunition using the Hornady XTP bullet is accurate, reliable, expands over a wide range of velocity, maintains a good balance of expansion and penetration and may be match-grade accurate. That means a lot. The Hornady XTP bullet is that kind of bullet.
There are many types of XTP bullets ranging in size from .25 to .45 caliber. As a rule, these bullets offer the minimum of 12 inches of penetration demanded in personal defense—with expansion up to 1.5 caliber in the major calibers. While it is possible to design a bullet that fragments or expands wildly in some situations, the XTP bullet handles the majority of situations well.
We train for the worst case—not the average—and I want a bullet that stays together. Marksmanship takes care of the rest. There is a balance between expansion and penetration, and without adequate penetration we have nothing. Remember, the total wound volume is what counts. If the bullet expands less and penetrates more, it damages a lot more tissue. I also prefer a bullet that is not deflected by bone or stopped by intermediate objects.
Another advantage of the XTP is Hornady’s famous quality control. Among the most accurate combinations I have ever fired have been those using Hornady bullets. In particular, the 200-grain XTP has proven extremely accurate in .45 ACP when loaded to about 1,000 fps. Titegroup powder is the sweet spot in the recipe for this bullet, and I am not discussing match grade pistols with fitted barrels. (Although the XTP does well in my Bar-Sto barrel pistols.)
In my service grade carry guns, the XTP is often the single most accurate bullet to pass through the lands and grooves. In personal defense calibers, the 124-grain XTP in 9mm, 155-grain XTP in .40 and the 200-grain XTP in .45 ACP are excellent choices. The XTP is also an ideal hunting bullet. The 180-grain XTP bullet is among the most accurate I have ever fired in the .357 Magnum revolver. Unlike most light bullets, the 125-grain XTP in .357 Magnum stays together and penetrates deep, which makes the four-inch Magnum usable as a field gun.
As an experiment, and simply for the joy of handloading, I have loaded a number of unlikely combinations over the years. The XTP breaks some of the rules concerning light bullets. Before the XTP, the rule was heavy bullets do not expand well—the XTP does expand—and light bullets fragment.
I loaded the 90-grain XTP, designed for the .380 ACP and 9mm Luger, in the .38 Super case. Accuracy was brilliant from my five-inch Colt at a sizzling 1600 fps. However, when fired into ballistic media, I was surprised. The 90-grain XTP expanded like mad, of course, at this velocity and refused to fragment and penetrated over 10 inches!
If you handload, and you should, the XTP is probably the best all around choice as a go anywhere, do anything, jacketed, hollow point bullet. In factory ammunition, I have found Hornady loads are consistently reliable with excellent cartridge integrity. The 9mm, .40 and standard pressure .45 caliber loads are often loaded lighter than some competitors. These loads are easy to control in rapid fire and accurate. No matter the speed at which the bullet strikes the test media, there is expansion.
The faster the bullet, the greater the expansion with no loss in penetration. If you want more velocity, the .45 ACP +P load delivers. This is a powerful loading I reserve for steel frame five-inch guns. If you fire a box or two, you just may decide Hornady made the right choice in loading its personal defense loads to standard velocity. Heavy recoil can inhibit accuracy. Just the same, if you need a +P load, the XTP delivers impressive performance.
There are those who prefer the fragmenting bullet that trails fragments behind the bullet and takes off in all directions like a bursting melon. I prefer a bullet with integrity. Energy figures are not really applicable to gauge the damage a projectile might do, although they are interesting: actual damage is what matters.
Momentum means something, and if the projectile has integrity and weight, I do not wish to sacrifice that integrity. As Galileo remarked during his trial, upon noticing the movement of a chandelier, Eppur si Muove—See, it does move. I feel the same about momentum. It is there for all to see, and a heavy bullet at decent velocity will prove effective.
The XTP is a credible design, well suited to all around use.
Have you used Hornaday’s Top Flight XTP ammunition? What do you think of it? Share in the comments section.