Self Defense Bullets for 9mm & 40sw


January 9, 2013, 10:47 AM
Hey everyone, thanks for the reading and some help here!

First off, I never carry reloads for daily carry. I only carry factory ammo and I am not looking to debate the merits of carrying factory vs reloads here.

That said, I would like to build up a small stash of reliable self defense ammo to have on hand for [insert end of world / zombiepocalypse / ancient civilization prediction / economic collapse / here]. I have reloaded for the past year for action pistol sports and have great data for low recoil loads to punch holes in cardboard targets. If these rounds are going to be used, the last thing we have to worry about will be how a prosecutor will look at my ammo being reloaded instead of factory.

So that brings me here... I do not have knowledge and data for which bullets to use for affordable, reliably expanding JHP self defense ammo. So what are some solid performing bullets to look at for 9mm and 40sw to get started with the testing process in my specific firearms? And where is a good place to get them affordable?


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January 9, 2013, 10:55 AM
I believe Speer sells Gold Dot bullets as components. That would be fine.

January 9, 2013, 02:00 PM
I bought a bunch of Precision Delta 124gr JHP 9mm initially for target shooting with the thought that if they expanded decently I would keep a bunch loaded up for the SHTF times. While not a real super duper test, I 'popped' one into a swimming pool, yup it expanded, not the picture perfect round I'd expect from my Speer or Ranger T carry rounds, kind of nasty looking....I definitely wouldn't want that in me! They shoot pretty accurately also. I'm working up a charge to get them up around 1100fps, getting close, might be done if the chronographs would stop reaching out and grabbing the bullets. When I get the speed I want out of 'em, they should be even better out of my Kel Tec Sub2k.

January 9, 2013, 02:06 PM
I also carry factory loads for SD however my bullet of choice in 9mm and 45 ACP is the Spear Gold Dots with the short barrel for my 9mm with the standard for my 45 ACP. I have purchased Spear GD bullets and loaded a few of my own using them using various powders and they functioned well for me. Just haven't done enough yet to decide on which powder works best with them.

January 9, 2013, 02:09 PM
Among several brand factory JHP, I use Remington Golden Saber and Speer Gold Dot ammunition for SD/HD purposes. I also use bulk Golden Saber/Gold Dot bullets to load practice/back up rounds.

January 10, 2013, 09:22 AM
Where do you guys get decent pricing on bulk Golden Sabers or Gold Dot bullets?

January 10, 2013, 09:34 AM
I buy Remington Golden Saber bulk bullets from MidwayUSA when they go on sale -

I bought Speer Gold Dot bulk bullets from Dillon and other retailers but in recent years, Gold Dots have been harder to find. Dillon is still selling .357 158 gr HP bullets -

Rocky Mountain Reloading has stocked pulled Speer Gold Dot bullets along with other brand JHP bullets. Currently they are sold out of Gold Dots but have 40S&W/10mm 135 grain HST bullets in stock -

Berry's MFG is in the process of releasing a similar HP bullet as Gold Dots but the retail release has been delayed -

January 10, 2013, 02:06 PM
I'd get a bunch of lead bullets. They will shoot someone just as well. Your kids are going to love burning those up in a few years.

January 10, 2013, 03:04 PM
My primary reload for SD, which I carry on a daily basis, is Gold Dot. However, I have tested XTP's and a number of others, and XTP's have performed very nicely.

As for carrying reloads for SD, it would serve you well to take a look at case history, or, speak to an expert about doing so. I have used a reliable certified expert source regarding firearm laws and case history of such for quite some time, as follows.

He will gladly answer your questions regarding any firearm legal concerns. you may have.

January 10, 2013, 03:35 PM
Appreciate the link, it is a good read and I am sure that guy is a great instructor. However I am not really interested in the debate between carrying reloads vs factory. In all honesty, I am perfectly comfortable carrying factory ammo and only loading SD/HD ammo for SHTF scenarios and to closely replicate the feel of my factory daily carry ammo.

I am more interested in where to find the Speer, Remington, Hornady bullets that everyone is talking about. I only find them (if they are even in stock) at full retail places like Cabelas, Midway, etc. For those prices and for the few rounds that I will hopefully never have to shoot, I can buy cases of factory ammo cheap from places like SGammo etc.

I can load up full power ammo that replicates the feel of my carry ammo now so I can practice with moly or lead bullets dirt cheap. My pistols get heavy work outs several times a week during the non-winter months, and at least 2-3 times a month during winter. That is way too much money to send 15K-20K expensive SD bullets into berms on a yearly basis.

January 10, 2013, 05:05 PM
This one comes down to concepts and views.

I haven't messed with 9MM (not counting practice lead loads for my brother) in over 35 years, so I will not comment on them.

For 40 S&Ws, I load for business Hornady 155gr XTPs. My view is expansion is going to be limited at best, so I want velocity, yet don't want to shoot threw my adversary. My loads run around 1070FPS (my lead loads, also 155gr, run 960 FPS). These could be pushed a lot faster but I shoot a double tap and a fire ball from the first round blocks my view for any follow ups. I really just want my 45 ACP.

Hondo 60
January 10, 2013, 09:27 PM
To get reliable expansion you need not only a good bullet, but you also need velocity.

For example:
I have brand X bullets.
When used at 38 Special speeds, I get a bit of expansion, but not what the company advertises.
However, that same bullet used in a .357 magnum, flowers like a daisy in June.

So you can have the best bullet ever, but if you load them to lower velocity, you may not like the result.

January 10, 2013, 10:52 PM
Hondo is correct, you must have adequate velocity to facilitate expansion. An expensive high quality HP isn't going to perform much better than a FMJ if it isn't traveling fast enough.

To achieve good upper end velocity is best accomplished with slower burning powders, and for a couple of good reasons too. First off, most slow burners will operate with minimal spiking pressures when used at mid to max charges. And secondly, they make it much harder, if not impossible for an accidental double charge slip by unnoticed. This is because they are bulky or require larger charges, and thus accomodate most of the case. So as to not cause any embarassment Hondo, I won't specify the event you recently encountered. But I think your experience in this area is of good merit and value for all of us to learn from, which I know I certainly appreciate you sharing it with us.

January 11, 2013, 09:16 PM
I like to hold off buying bullets until they go on sale, but in todays market its starting to be more of if you can find them. Cabelas normally puts their xtp bullets on sale about every six months on average. A few months ago I picked up some 124 grain xtp bullets for around 14.00 or 15.00 a hundred. I tested these with some factory loaded 124 grain speer gold dots non +p. They didnt open up as much, but they did drive deeper. Weight retention was in the mid 90% range. I also have some 115 grain regular remington hp bullets (non golden sabre). They held together and opened up nicely, and I got good pentration using bullseye powder. They run under 14.00 a box if you can find them.

For 40 cal I really like the 180 xtp bullet and it hits hard and drives deep. It does not open up as much as my factory gloden sabres, but it does holds together in 40 cal velocity. There is alot of non expanded shank left when I shoot thems in wet newspaper. I stocked up on them last year when cabelas had them for a little over 16.00 a box.

At them same time I was getting the XTPs I also got some Nosler sporting Handgun 150 grain bullets that were on sale for 35.00 for 250 bullets. I was really impressed with how this bullet looks. It has a nasty looking hollow point that is skived. I have done some initial testing with this bullet in newspaper. It does not drive as deep as 180 grain golden sabres or xtp , but it opens up really good. weight retention was around 85%. A full load with Acc #5 is a hand full. These have to be one of the best values in quality bullets that really can serve as a sd bullet. Midway USA has them in stock right now for 40.49 for 250.

Note; My tests are my results. When I test a bullet I also fire a comparsion round into my test media to compare them.

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