Stopping Power: Top Choices for Self-Defense Ammunition

Two upset Hornady bullets

A solid marketing scheme or cool packaging will do little to stop an attacker, but the right ammunition can. However, there are far too many people who can tell you exactly why they chose a particular firearm for self-defense, but have little to no idea why they chose the ammunition they loaded into the gun. This article reviews bullet construction, “stopping power,” and a handful of top choices to get you on a path to effective self-defense.

When choosing a firearm for self-defense, your primary concerns should be centered around the fit, function, purpose, and potentially concealability of your firearm. Next, you’ll want to ensure theory meets reality. For example, the gun may be small enough to easily conceal, but too small to easily manipulate the controls. You may have the right self-defense caliber, but the recoil of the particular platform is unacceptable.

Two upset Hornady bullets
If you are worried about ammunition performance, load Hornady defense loads and rest easy.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s start with the premise that you have done your homework, bought a pistol that you can easily manipulate the controls, achieve a repeatable grip, and successfully manage the recoil. If the gun will be used for concealed carry, it is also sized properly so you can conceal it.

Congratulations! You now own a rather poor club or a very expensive rock. Whichever way you prefer to view it, the firearm is not what stops the attacker, the bullet does. The most tricked-out reliable pistol in the world is of little value without ammunition—more specifically, the right ammunition for the gun.

The firearm is the launch vehicle, but the bullet is the instrument that does the dirty work. To say the bullet is the most important element in the self-defense equation would only be a half-truth. The shooter needs to be able to accurately place the round on target.


If the effectiveness of a bullet can be summed up in a single phrase, it would be “stopping power.” The more stopping power a bullet delivers, the more effective it will be at ending a confrontation in your favor. Make no mistake; stopping power and caliber do not share the direct correlation many people think. While I like, and have often subscribed to, the theory of “The bigger the pea, the better the straw it was shot from” caliber is still a misleading measure of stopping power in my opinion.

upset V-Crown bullet top view
Note excellent expansion .45 Colt V Crown hollowpoint.

Lead bullets expand rapidly. This is because the metal is soft and easily deformed. However, even in larger calibers such as the .40 S&W or .45 ACP, an all-lead bullet would deform quickly at the expense of penetration. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the full metal jacket or FMJ bullet. The FMJ’s hard copper shell over the lead core gives outstanding penetration (by comparison), but it has a tendency to over penetrate, which means it did not transfer all of its energy (hydrostatic shock) diminishing its stopping power.

For maximum stopping power, we need the proper amount of penetration coupled with the maximum amount of energy transfer. This combination is the definition of stopping power, and what we need to end a gunfight in our favor. That is why simply having the biggest caliber is not necessarily the best solution—especially when it is not coupled with the right ammunition.



Now that we have a good definition of stopping power, we can start looking at the rest of the elements of the self-defense bullet equation. The perfect bullet is akin to a unicorn that ballisticians have chased since the invention of gunpowder. As of today, it does not exist in any single form, and here is why.

What do you learn from watching a video of a bullet fired into a gel block? We have all watched these videos. The bullet enters, the block shakes in slow motion, the shooter whips out a knife, cuts open the block, and retrieves the beautifully upset bullet. From this we have a fairly good measure of penetration, energy transfer, and expansion. However, stopping at this point and believing you have the right self-defense ammunition is a fool’s errand.

Hornady Critical Defense bullet, cross section and upset
This is the Hornady Critical Defense, a very efficient bullet.

The video has only demonstrated how well the cartridge performed out of a particular gun, not your firearm. That is to say, the same cartridge fired from a revolver with a 6-inch barrel gives very different performance than a cartridge fired from a 2-inch snubby.

The longer barrel offers a more complete powder burn that generally equates to a faster velocity. Given the short range of a self-defense encounter, we are essentially talking about muzzle velocity as our measure. The difference in bullet speed (as applied to kinetic energy) effects how the bullet expands, which in turn affects penetration and energy transfer or stopping power.

With this knowledge, we can make a few deductions. The first is that we need to select a bullet with the proper construction. There are several worthy hybrids on the market today. Historically however, they are some variation of the jacketed hollow point (JHP). The JHP features a soft inner core, usually lead, with a hard outer coating such as copper. The hollow point allows the soft inner core to maximize expansion and energy transfer while the partial copper jacket controls the expansion to achieve the proper amount of penetration—not too much as to over penetrate, or too little which would not reach the vitals and do the necessary damage to stop the threat.

DoubleTap 77-grain and 115-grain upset bullets
The Double Tap 77-grain bullet, left, would be ideal for urban defense. The 115-grain all copper load is a good choice while the +P 115-grain load, right, maximizes the caliber. Note the long shank and all-copper center.

This is predicated upon the bullet’s speed at entry and the medium of the target, which is why ballisticians chase the mythical unicorn. The manufacturer does not know which gun you will be using, the barrel length, how the target will be clothed, whether the target is a bulked-up, 400-pound mound of fat and muscle or a skin and bones 110-pound meth addict.

What the ballisticians have done to solve this dilemma is formulate powders with different burn rates. They have designed a variety of bullet core and jacket combinations to control the rate of expansion. The combination of powder and bullet is a task reloaders are used to testing, but self-defense enthusiasts… not so much. This is where you have to take responsibility, and do a little homework.

Selecting the Right Ammunition for Your Handgun

Will you be carrying a full-size 1911 with a 5-inch barrel or short 3.5-inch barreled Citadel? Will a 9mm Glock 17 with a 4.48-inch barrel or Glock 43 with a 3.39-inch barrel ride your waistline? What will your likely adversary be wearing? Is it minimal clothing such as t-shirts and shorts weather or winter parkas and multiple layers weather? Penetrating heavy clothing may clog the hollow point, effectively making it act like a FMJ.

Considerations such as these—and I am sure some of you reading this will add more in the comment section—are all factors you should be considering when selecting a self-defense ammunition. While there is no one cartridge that is optimal for all guns and situations, you can certainly increase the effectiveness of your self-defense ammunition by choosing the best performer for your chosen pistol and carry situation. After all, it is your life and the lives of your loved ones that matter most. Isn’t that worth more than just the cheapest (or most expensive) box on the shelf? Isn’t that worth a little research, forethought, and testing on your part?

Gel blocks are very cool and crazy expensive. 20 Percent ballistic gelatin blocks, depending on dimensions, run anywhere from about $80 to $200 each. That adds up quick. However, one-gallon milk jugs filled with water and a chronograph is a lot cheaper.

Here are the test results Bob Campbell reported in his Every Man’s Defensive Caliber — The 9mm article.

Ammunition Performance

Ruger SR1911 9mm with 4.25-inch Barrel
Load Velocity/Penetration in Water  Expansion
Hornady 124-grain XTP 1090 fps/16 inches .54
Hornady 124-grain XTP +P 1180 fps/17 inches .66
Winchester 115-grain Silvertip 1150 fps/11 inches .64
Winchester 124-grain PDX +P 1190 fps/16 inches .65
Gorilla Ammunition 135-grain 960 fps/18 inches .70
SIG Sauer Elite 124-grain V Crown 1165 fps/18 inches .66
Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P Short Barrel 1201 fps/15 inches .68
Federal 124-grain HST 1155 fps/18 inches .72

What type of ammunition should you buy? Here’s a list of several top choices, all of which were designed with one goal in mind—winning the fight by stopping the attacker and minimizing the damage to you and your loved ones. But you still need to proof your chosen load.

Four Speer Gold Dot bullets after impact
This is the Speer Gold Dot bullet after impact at different velocities. Even at modest velocity, the bullet expands to an extent.

Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection

Speer pioneered bonded core bullets. The Uni-Cor bonding process secures the jacket to the alloy lead core essentially eliminating the odds of the jacket and core separating during expansion.

The Gold Dot’s hollow point design is formed in two stages. The first stage controls the width of expansion. The second stage determines the rate of expansion. This patented two-step cavity formation gives Speer’s engineers incredible control in the design process. Each bullet caliber and weight is tuned for optimum expansion and penetration to maximize stopping power.

Speer Personal Protection Short Barrel

This load shares the same qualities you’ll find in the standard Personal Protection line, including nickel cases and Speer bullets with two-stage construction. However, the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Personal Protection line of handgun projectiles is designed to offer you superior performance out of your shorter barreled carry guns at an affordable price.

Federal Premium Personal Defense HST

Federal Premium Personal Defense HST cartridges offer everything needed in a personal defense round: consistent expansion, optimum penetration, and superior terminal performance. That’s why it’s already the duty load of choice for law enforcement officers around the world.

Federal Premium Personal Defense Micro HST 9mm
Federal Premium Personal Defense Micro HST 9mm

Federal Premium Personal Defense Micro HST

The .380 Micro HST, introduced in 2015 and now available in addition calibers, offers the same consistent expansion, optimum penetration and superior terminal performance as its bigger brother, but with bullet weights and propellants optimized for the most efficient cycling and accuracy in micro-sized subcompact handguns.

Hornady Critical Defense

When the demand came for a better self-defense round, Hornady answered the call with its Critical Defense line. All Critical Defense ammunition is loaded with the FTX bullet that features a hollow point with a polymer tip to maximize ballistic performance and reliable expansion by reducing the chances of clogging.

Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash Heavy .38 Special Ammunition

Colt Commander with Hornady Critical Defense ammunition
The Hornady Critical Defense load proves accurate and powerful at a solid 974 fps.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition is some of the best defensive ammo available. Buffalo Bore 20E was manufactured specifically to meet the needs of shooters carrying older/fragile/alloy revolvers. Buffalo Bore 20E is an effective “fight stopper” that is more powerful than typical.38 SPL ammo. It is also flash suppressed.

The Buffalo Bore 20E utilizes a jacketed hollow point 125-grain bullet. This bullet is designed to expand at low speeds and has no problem opening up at considerably less velocity, than the stated 900 fps on the box, from two-inch barrel revolvers. Penetration in human tissue is roughly 12 inches.


These are just a few of the dozens of the quality self-defense ammunition offerings on the market today. You’ll have to do some homework, but popping a few caps at the range is hardly work. Due to the cost of premium ammunition, testing with a few friends is never a bad idea. However, if four friends each bring a few different boxes of ammunition, you’ll have a lot of test loads for each of you at a minimal expense.

What pistol and load combination do you carry? What testing did you do to proof the ammunition you carry in your self-defense gun? Share your answers 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 (56)

  1. I am sort of partial to the Federal HST’s and the Speer Gold Dots. Ive had great results out of both from a wide range of weapons.

  2. I wonder why the Gloçk 19 wasn’t mentioned. It seems to me that one of the most popular carry weapons would be mentioned for the information results.

    1. We are always looking for ammunition to test! Let me reach out to G2 and see what we can do. ~Dave Dolbee

  3. #ShawnD Thanks again for the thorough explanation and the book recommendation. I will certainly grab a copy of it. With the temporary stretch cavity issue, I guess the best way to sum it up would be that it may “hurt”, but not “incapacitate” (necessarily, dependent upon shot placement). Much obliged. – Steve

    1. Unless the bullet produces direct physical trauma to the central nervous system or blood loss in rate and quantity to produce rapid unconsciousness you cannot rely on the temporary cavity causing any type of reaction as the bad guy may be drunk, drugged, psychotic, extremely determined and he/she may not react as you believe a rational actor would.

    2. #ShawnD After studying this further you are correct. The temporary stretch cavity may be disruptive and may “hurt”, but there seems to be no guarantee that it would put someone down for the count. I appreciate the explanation and the links to additional research. Cheers mate.

  4. Sadly the author mistakenly believes that energy transfer is a mechanism of incapacitation. It is not. The bullet must damage tissues critical to immediate survival to produce rapid incapacitation of a violent felon. Only hits to the brain and upper spinal cord will produce instant incapacitation. Hits anywhere else on the body are going to take time – time required for blood loss in rate and quantity to produce unconsciousness. A handgun bullet can only be counted on to poke a hole in soft tissues, unlike higher velocity expanding rifle bullets that produce a substantially larger temporary cavity that can produce severe damage to even the most resilient of soft tissues as well as produce concussion of the spinal cord which stuns and disrupts the spinal cord causing instant temporary paralysis that leads to instant collapse.

    1. #ShawnD Thanks for the comment. God willing I will never have to use a rifle or handgun to incapacitate an intruder. However, I will never hesitate to do so if necessary. In the slow-mo videos, the temporary expansion looks wicked from a rifle round, as we’ve all seen. One would think that that alone would “hurt” someone. However, I understand your point about instantly incapacitating a threat, and I believe you are quite correct. I’ve seen too many videos where people take two or three rounds from a handgun, then get back up. My go-to is the AR-15 in 5.56 or .300 AAC with expanding rounds for an HD scenario. Thank you for the clarification, mate.

    2. Think of the temporary cavity as nothing more than than a “splash” of soft tissues. As for the “wicked looking” temporary cavities produced by centerfire rifle bullets, consider hunters who shoot human-sized game animals with large caliber centerfire rifle bullets and the animal runs away immediatley after being shot.. I suggest you go to YouTube and search for and view the video “LeMas Ltd Killing Pigs to Sell Bullets”. There you’ll see pigs being shot with handgun and rifle bullets designed to quickly “transfer energy”. Note that NONE of them are instantly incapacitated and ALL are able to act with volition immediately after being shot (and none of the pigs are drunk, drugged, psychotic, etc.).

  5. #Mr. Charles Very good point! Thanks for bringing that up. Consistently flawless feeds are obviously critical.

  6. The only thing I would add is to test the round to make sure it feeds in your gun properly. I had a friend with a cheap Taurus pistol that thought he was all set until he went to the range to test his pistol with his chosen round and it jammed the gun repeatedly. The 147 grain rounds worked fine in his Glock, but would not feed in his Taurus.

    1. The Taurus problems were with the magazines, not the weapon. From 2008 until 2012-13 taurus put out crappy mags that needed to be smoothed and rounded to feed properly. Those problems have been fixed.
      The new Taurus Spectrum in .380 is…in a word…perfection. If, however, your friend still has that problem, tell him to simply smooth out the top of the feeder in the mag with a metal file and spread the teeth a bit and the mags will feed fine. cheers.

    2. So you are excusing a third rate maker on the reasoning that he supplied a firearm with a non functional major component? Buy quality and there are no excuses. Decide what your life is worth. My life is worth more than a Taurus.

    3. Anyone can make a lemon. It can and does happen….Look at all the various recalls of things from baby cribs to vehicles from almost every manufacturer (IF NOT ALL OF THEM) of vehicles, to various firearms to kitchen appliances to whatever item…..

      I have seen Colt 1911 .45 ACP NIB have all kinds of issues and need some work from factory or Gunsmiths….I have seen “cheap and I MEAN CHEAP weapons work flawlessly….We just never know when it is going to happen Taurus did make a bunch of crap at one time. They corrected that problem…and I know and have seen others that own, use, EDC with them.

      Glad your friend got the problem resolved

    4. A few years ago, I bought a Springfield EMP. I took it to the range and broke it in with 100 rounds of ball ammo, without a hiccup. My defensive ammo of choice is Hornady Critical Defense. The gun would not run on the CD rounds. They were hanging up on the feed ramp.

      I sent it back to Springfield and told them the problem. A couple weeks later I got the gun back, with a nice trigger job, but it still would hang up on CD ammo. This time it was with a nasty letter about the cost of the gun and it not running on Hornady Critical Defense. I even suggested they go buy a box or two of CD and make sure the gun would run on it 100% of the time!

      After two weeks, the gun was returned but this time with a polished and angle adjusted feed ramp. Now it swallows Hornady CD without even a stutter. To be sure, I let it get dirty on range ammo, then went thru several magazines of CD, on El Prez and made certain it could be relied on in a critical encounter!

  7. Glad that you have found the information you were seeking to become a better informed Armed Citizen. Before I purchase anything I do the research to find out the information needed to give me the best knowledge to judge the merits of the product I want and if it will fit the needs that I want. Example: I wanted a .44 or .45 Magnum – when looking at the Ballistics Data for the .44 Magnum the maximum load was not enough for what I wanted, I then looked at the .45 Magnums Data and found the .454 Casull which gave me the results that I wanted for the need that I had. I then purchased a firearm that shot that cartridge and that I could handle as well. That is my experience level and I hope that you will be happy with what you are doing.

  8. In World War 2, many men took hits from the .30-06 and 8mm Mauser, from rifle-length barrels, and continued to fight. There is no stopping power, only “hole-punching power”. How the human will react to the hole is an entirely different area of inquiry. Make sure your ammo is reliable, make sure you can hit vital areas, and be ready to punch additional holes.

  9. This article doesn’t quite hit the mark. Your defensive ammunition priorities must be 1) reliability, 2) reasonable accuracy, 3) adequate penetration [in properly validated 10% ballistics gel], 4) expansion to maximum potential, and 5) everything else. I highly recommend reading “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” by Urey Patrick. While I’m sure the author’s heart is in the right place, I would not recommend this article. And…For the record…+P and +P+ does not always equal better bullet performance – there can be a point of diminishing returns where the increased velocity of the +P can cause rapid expansion to the point where penetration is negatively affected. Penetration is somewhat more critical than expansion. Though the increase in velocity will have a positive effect on kinetic energy, kinetic energy is not what wounds.

    1. #John Santry I agree with your points and I’ll look for the book. Thank you for the suggestion. Being a relative novice (1 year of firearms experience), I do understand physics. Maybe you can answer a question for me. In ballistics gel tests, we always see the big temporary stretch cavity. Does this contribute in any way to disabling an attacker? It looks viscous in slow motion, and I agree that accuracy (thus better shot placement) is a priority in stopping a home invader. What are your thoughts? Thank you.

    2. Steve Hamilton – the temporary cavity produced by handgun bullets in common combat calibers is too small to reliably damage soft tissues. Some soft tissues, such as liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen and brain, do not tolerate stretching well and can be torn and ruptured by the temporary cavity but it depends entirely where these tissues are located along the wound track in relation to the temporary cavity. Also, if you understand physics then I suggest Duncan MacPherson’s book, “Bullet Penetration – Modeling the Dynamics and the Incapacitation Resulting from Wound Trauma”. Placement and penetration are the keys to producing the physiological disruption required to quickly stop a determined attacker. The bullet has to be placed where it will pass through tissues vital to immediate survival and the bullet has to penetrate deeply enough to reach and damage them.

  10. All of this makes perfect sense, to me at least. Starting as a firearms novice last year, my attitude has changed dramatically. I began with the thought of getting the “biggest and baddest” gun, ammo, etc. Now that I’ve had a year’s worth of experience, (which certainly does not qualify me for anything but a teeny bit of knowledge), I’ve come to my senses. Matching me, with the right gun and caliber, first. Then finding the ammunition that works best with my handguns and will do its duty, as long as I do mine. Thanks for a well-written and very enlightening article!

  11. Dave – Great write-up on this critically important subject. First, a disclaimer; I have absolutely no association with beyond being a customer. I’ve been using defensive handgun ammunition for over forty years and I highly recommend anyone with interest on this subject to visit the following link to see real-world (i.e., moderate barrel lengths) performance of many of today’s defensive ammunition options. The guys have done the most comprehensive investigation and reporting of defensive handgun ammunition performance I have ever seen. As they say, “The proof is in the pudding!” Here is the link –

  12. Still have some Black Talon rounds which are very effective in my Colt Gold Cup 45acp. Remington Golden Sabre 185 grain fills that bill very well.
    Hornady 135 grain critical duty works better in my wifes Glock 17

    1. Had several Golden Sabres at the last gel shoot fail to expand at all. Caliper measured .402 form a 40. We called then GMJ’s. Golden Metal Jackets.

  13. Dave is right when he notes the rapid advances and creative marketing for high-pressure rounds in common self-defense calibers. Shooters should note, however, that a given round’s “Copper Unit of Pressure” (CUP), which is different than published chamber PSI, can have adverse influence on the function of a particular gun.

    Case in point, I was looking for a high performing .357 Magnum round for a new Smith 386-Plus revolver. After firing the first chamber with Hornady’s Critical Duty in that caliber, the cylinder froze–not what you want for a carry gun. It required a gunsmith to free the cylinder and extract the spent cartridge. The problem? Due to the extremely high CUP designed into the cartridge, the case head had actually “welded” itself to the area around the firing pin, preventing cylinder rotation and jamming the gun.

    This is not intended to bad-mouth Hornady (or Cor Bon or Doubetap) or many others who offer increasingly high-pressure rounds. Just be aware as a shooter that very high CUP loads can do unexpected things to many guns, even when the advertised chamber PSI falls within SAMMI limits.

    If you are considering any of these extra-high octane loads, call the factory to obtain the CUP number (remember, it is NOT the same as chamber PSI) for the round, then ask a gunsmith familiar with your pistol or revolver if can likely handle these higher pressures–and certainly do so before you depend on the round to save your life.

  14. You nailed it…the round has to work for your gun. After doing some online research and with the recommendation of our local gunshop owne who used them in his .45 XDS, I bought some ARX polymer rounds in .40 S&W for my 4″ XD. Got to the range to test them in a 10-round magazine and found that none of the initial ARX rounds in 3 different magazines would feed into the chamber without jamming. If I topped off the mag with a FMJ or other hollowpoint, the subsequent ARX rounds underneath would feed just fine. Glad I didn’t discover this in a gunfight! Needless to say, I won’t be purchasing Ruger ARX as a defense load for my particular handgun again. Word to the wise: Before you depend on a gun and its ammo, get to the range and run it through its paces.

    1. Steve S. How many rounds of ammo have you put through your handgun? It sounds like it could use a little bit of polishing on the ramp. Best information I ever got from a great old Gun dealer was this this. ANY new semi-auto ( I had bought a 1911 elsewhere ) was to take it and put 500-1000 rounds of hardball through it and after that THEN try Hollow Points and other types of bullets….
      I took his advice and it has fed everything I can find to feed it and had no issues,
      This is just a thought for you to consider about your firearm…….

  15. H&K VP9 + Hornady Critical Defense is within reach at all times in the house.

    Tested this load against Buffalo Bore and HST. Felt most comfortable, and was most accurate at typical home defense distances, with the Hornady load.

    Read good things about the Sig and Speer loads, should probably test them as well.

  16. Reliable function in YOUR gun is the #1 criterion in choosing defensive ammo – and until you’ve fired a couple of hundred rounds through it, you really don’t KNOW it’s reliable.

    Beyond that, I feel comfortable about using premium ammo from any of the major manufacturers. The premium ammo includes better QC than the cheap “generic” product lines (thing like crimp come into play) and better bullets are often included. In appropriate guns, I’ll move up to +P or +P+ ammo.

    As for handloads . . . I think the legal pitfalls of using handloaded ammo are minimal in a good shoot in most parts of the country. But with factories now producing GOOD high performance ammo, the need to handload things like reversed HBWC bullets in .38 Special to try and improve on the RNL standard load – the only thing commercially available – just isn’t a factor any more.

    1. 😐 RIP has consistently been one of the poorer performing rounds in tests.

  17. Stopping Power is a measurement without a standard; there are too many variables. Testing in ballistic gelation as a standard does not represent real world effectiveness. Adversary’s have been stopped with one shot from a .22LR, and not with multiple good hits with a .45ACP, Even with 5.56 NATO ammo, more than one good hit has been end an altercation. When the subject is people, one size never fits all.

  18. My everyday carry is a Glock 21 .45 ACP, I use law enforcement Federal HST 230gr +P.

    My micro carry for situations that require extra conceal-ability is a Ruger LC9S w/ a 9 round extended mag, in it I carry COR-BON DPX 115gr +P.

    I have had great results with both of these rounds and I highly recommend them. Like the article said a lot of it has to do with your ability and preference. As a 6’4″ 265lb Army Vet I can easily double tap 2 rounds at a time in the center of mass in under a second with the 230gr +P, someone smaller or with less experience might not be able to handle that recoil effectively.

    My biggest recommendation is to buy a box of several tried and true defence rounds, and go murder some paper and see how they feed and feel.

  19. I prefer my Walther PPK/s for carry. Size, weight, hand feel and concelment are my choice. I’ve lightened the trigger, and recoil spring enough to get of following shots without recoil.
    With Hornady Critical Defense I get stopping power, low flash, penetrating destruction I need with low velosity urban use protection. All commercially available also for my defense in court. Why I prefer .380.

  20. I carry a full size 45 ACP service pistol 99% of the time. I feed them with standard pressure 230 gr. Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, or Remington Golden Saber in that order. All are tried and true defensive rounds and my guns eat them like candy.

    Run silent, run deep.

  21. For what it’s worth I’ve done a lot of testing and found out that subsonic 22 ammo will travel through water extremely farther than standard 22 ammo. I took an office trash can filled with water and shot the standard/hotter loads straight down over the top of the water. Every round hit the water so fast that they probably only were affective maybe 4″ of wound because they slap the water too fast. But the subsonic went all the way through the 18″ of water and went easily right through the bottom and leaked everywhere . The trash can was ruined after that one shot. So my conclusion is if you wanna go vastly deeper than I recommend subsonic.

  22. My favorite is the plain box Remington JHP. Why? Simply because it feeds through the gun like FMJ. Not a factor in the bigger guns, but the pocket .380’s seem fussy about bullet shapes. Also, it’s about the same price.
    More practice (facilitated by inexpensive ammo) and reliability.
    Will I be concerned if the threat is wearing a kevlar tie or leather coat? Maybe for the first shot, but there are other things to think about at that point.

  23. My current carry is a Sig P220 SAS compact. The current load is Speer’s Gold Dot “Duty” 230 grain. My other load is Federal Premium Law Enforcement +P HST…also in 230 grain. Both feed and perform well in my Sig, and i will soon try them in my Colt Government Model.

  24. in my experience the hornady XTP bullets fail to properly expand most of the time, have tried them in 9mm and 45 acp, in 45 acp had ZERO expansion at around 900 fps hot loads, so tried loading the same bullets into 45 win mag cases and got inconsistent expansion most did not expand a few did and some just had some copper peel back.
    In 9mm the copper peeled back then the lead just expanded and was removed bullets lost weight instead of expanding to larger diameters.
    What I have of the xtp bullets I just use for plinking now.
    gold dot performs much more consistently so save those for defensive loads

  25. I would like to WARN all persons to LOAD ONLY FACTORY AMMUNITION FOR SELF DEFENSE. There have been court cases where hand loads were used and the DA made the case that the Hand Loads were made up by the defendant to affect more damage then factory loaded ammunition. The defendant was labeled as using SPECIAL KILLER AMMUNITION FOR SELF DEFENSE and losing the claim of self defense argument.

    1. Charles, the exact same claim has been made against the more exotic factory loads, and even against factory HP ammo. If you face a firearms-ignorant jury, and your defense attorney is not on his/her toes, it is pretty easy to convince the jury that factory HP loads are designed to “rip the body to shreds, fragmenting into vital organs not for the purpose of self-defense, but for the sole purpose of killing a human being” (quote taken directly from an attorney in a civil case)..

    2. Yesser, reminded why those ole Geneva convention deals had the military limited to using FMJ rounds – wound more, kill less. Military kinda likes that too, as one wounded guy usually requires two not wounded guys to take him out of the fight. The other point that using only factory ammo will possibly keep you outta court or jail, may be factual; however, there is that famous line: rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6! There are a few outfits out there, like Double Tap and Buffalo Bore, that produce excellent ammo that is hard to replicate from the reloaders bench. That said, I like mine better. Shoots better from my piece and “I know what’s in it!”

    1. One must not forget about collateral damage. This is one of the reasons for using hollow point ammunition.

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