How did you choose your .45 self-defense ammo brand?


June 25, 2004, 09:54 PM
How did you choose your .45 self-defense ammo? Based on the ballistics tests over at, there's a pretty wide range of quality out there.

I have shot about 2 ea. boxes of the major brands in my new Sig 220ST, all functioned well and relatively accurately. The velocity deviations were small and most performed as advertized. Truth is, now I'm having a difficult time deciding which to permanently adopt as the bedside load.

That having been said, how did you pick: a feel-good sentiment based on marketing and gun rag reviews? Shop talk down at the local gun store? Anecdotal evidence based on purported law enforcement stories? Asthetics?

I want to know!

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June 25, 2004, 10:01 PM
I buy whatever 230 gr JHP is on sale, enough to be confident my gun will feed it reliably. If it seems accurate I stock up. Lately this means Federal Hydrashok or Remington Golden Saber.


June 25, 2004, 10:04 PM
I've been using Federal 230-gr Hydra-Shoks almost since they first came out. I based my decision on papers presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences detailing the results of actual shootings with these type bullets in .38, 9mm, and .45.

IMHO, there is so little difference between Hydra-Shoks, Gold Dots, Golden Sabers, and Ranger SXT ammo that you should go with the rounds that are most accurate in your weapon and function with 100% reliability. That'd be the Hydra-Shoks for me.

Quintin Likely
June 25, 2004, 11:21 PM
If it works, and works reliably, and I can get lots of it relatively easily and cheaply, I run with it.

June 25, 2004, 11:43 PM
Well - for the longest time I used FMJ and then the "flying ashtrays" came out. Still have no problem if all that avail was hardball.

You can do a search, many threads and debates on ammo. Most of us believe in a primary requirement: Reliability

We keep it basic, have a gun, don't get caught in condition white, if things go south use brain and feet. If you have to stop and immdiate threat, it boils down to shot placement.

Ammo must feed and extract, test to see what shoots to POA/POI, shoot a minimum of 200 rds of a load to know it will run in your gun, then train and practice. Most of us have tested more than one brand, we just grab what is handy from one of those and go with it. If the gun won't run or shoot where aimed - shot placement ain't gonna happen.

I use the "sceintific mud /dirt test", if I want to check penetration and expansion. I compare with a critter I may have shot for critter control. I read real life hunting and testing from folks like our own Stephen Camp. to learn and compare.

I do this for any firearm, any platform, any caliber, or any gauge. Only your gun can tell you by testing.

Only magazine I read and believe what is written on ammo - SWAT.

June 25, 2004, 11:44 PM
reliability, and accuracy. 185 gr fed jhp (not hydros) are the most accurate for me. i havn't found a factory round that i could say is not reliable. but i havn't tried any cheap stuff in my 45 yet.


June 26, 2004, 12:09 AM
I buy whatever is on the shelf at my local dealer. He usually only has one brand.
I have never found any reasonable ammo that my 1911 won't feed from 155 grain SWC cast bullets to 255 grain bullets intended for use in the .45 Colt revolver so reliability isn't really an issue.
Any brand name commerical ammo is plenty accurate enough for personal defense IMO.
So, I buy whatever he has when I need it.

June 26, 2004, 12:09 AM
With the .45 acp I'll trust in most defensive ammunition, whether it is Hydra Shok, SXT, Gold Dot, or Golden Sabers, but the one that I find least expensive to practice with is the Georgia Arms loaded 185 gr. + P Gold Dot bullet, in their Shear Power Plus line at only $13.75 per 50 rds. These will get 1100 fps, with very smooth recoil and surprising accuracy. I shoot better with these than I do with the 230 gr. FMJ.

June 26, 2004, 01:12 AM
Whatever, bascially.

I'll run a box of various JHP ammo through my pistols to see if they feed, but not having a CHP I don't carry anyways.

However, in the times a .45 has comforted me, I've felt just as good with FMJ as JHP. (On the road, though, I prefer JHP, running on the assumption that it'd be less likely to penetrate a motel wall and go into the next room, should I miss the target.)

I like +P stuff when I can find it. Might not make a difference, but that extra 100 feet per second isn't going to do the target any favors either.

June 26, 2004, 10:36 AM
When I rely on a 45 ACP the ammo is usually Federal's 230 grain Hydra Shok. I picked this ammo years ago when I was reading and believing everything that spewed from the mouths of Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow. I'm a bit more mature now, but the Hydra Shok is a good and reliable round. I think the Golden Saber is just as good. In fact, most 230 grain hollowpoint ammo is going to be pretty good. I have never been really impressed with the 185 grain loads. The recoil is snappy, but I wonder about penetration.

Before relying upon any JHP or flat point ammo in any semi-auto, always test it for reliable function. I have seen a great number of pistols choke on some bullet designs.

June 26, 2004, 12:17 PM
LE friend gave me 450 rounds of Winchester Ranger 230 Grain +P when he switched jobs and had to carry a 40 S/W. Being fairly cheap thats all the logic I needed :)

Seriously most of the time I look at a bit of testing data (prefer to err on the penetration side), then see if any major agrencies are using it. Figure if it looks good in jello and an LE agency that actually shoots people occasionally are using it without much complaint likely ok choice.

I always remmebr for all the hype a handgun bullet is just a realtively tiny chunk of metal propelled out of a pipe that pokes hole in something... kinda takes the glammer out of picking a load doesn't it ;)

June 26, 2004, 12:19 PM
A bullet is a bullet. If it functions (feeds, extracts), then it is good. These are the basics. Almost all of the commercial ammo will be combat accurate. That said, I like 230 gr JHP. I have been known to run +P ammo. A little extra speed helps in perforating the target.

June 26, 2004, 01:21 PM
I didn't pick the ammo. My gun did. I only gave it options.:p

June 26, 2004, 01:25 PM
I suppose that you are also a gun "care provider?" :neener:

June 26, 2004, 01:47 PM
In North Carolina police officers are required to qualify with the ammunition they will carry in on-duty and off-duty guns. Interestingly enough this requirement only applies to police officers and other LEOs certified by criminal justice training and standards. Sheriff's deputies are only required to qualify with ammo "similar" to the carry load. They are certified by a different comission, and that comission doesn't require qualification with the actual duty load.

Anyway, I worked at a gun shop part-time. We carried a lot of Speer Gold Dot ammunition, which I could get at cost. I like the 230 grain JHP for the .45ACP, so I went with the 230 grain Gold Dot. It functioned in my .45 pistols, was accurate, and easy for me to get. So, I qualified with it and carried it.

I have since moved to Virginia. I'm not required to qualify with my carry ammo anymore. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services doesn't care what ammo you qualify with, so long as you qualify. I still carry the Gold Dot because I see no reason to change.

June 26, 2004, 03:20 PM
I stick with the bullet design that has the best performance history. Plenty of good reading out on the web.

Also stick with a round that feeds well, doesnt recoil like a bull, low flash and easy follow up shot capability.

For the .45 I picked the Speer Gold Dot JHP 200 gr +P for my Kimber Pro Carry.

June 26, 2004, 03:37 PM
Thread (

June 26, 2004, 04:03 PM
Research and recommendations from the 'Terminal Ballistics' forum at

- Gabe

Jammer Six
June 26, 2004, 04:46 PM
Since the two weapons that I carry are a Springfield milspec and a Springfield loaded government, and since the ammunition that Springfield recommends is Golden Sabres, I ordered a case over the internet, went to the range, and fired 400 rounds from each weapon at a target set at thirty feet.

Since it ran without a single malfunction in both weapons, and since I could hit the target at 30 feet, I decided that I like Golden Sabres. I fired the last 200 rounds at 40 feet, 100 from each weapon, again with no malfunctions.

Turned out that my old milspec is more accurate than the loaded model, but I came away convinced that the Golden Sabres were the carry ammo for me.

Number one, go bang. Number two, hit target. There is no number three.

The other thing I learned is that 1,000 rounds in one day is one hell of a lot of work, and will make you tired and it will make your bursitis act up.

June 26, 2004, 05:03 PM
Reliability over all else.

I took what was locally available and cheap enough to shoot in quantity for testing. That was Winchester white box 230 gr JHP, and it works 100%.

"First, make holes...."

June 27, 2004, 02:05 AM
After reliability testing I've settled on the "Gold Dot/Rainier combo package". Factory or Georgia Arms Gold Dots for carry and Rainier in same weight and profile for my reloads and practice. The Rainier bullet is very similar to the Gold Dot, so it makes for cheaper practice.

I'll keep the PowerBalls in my revolvers - where I don't have to test reliability very much.


June 27, 2004, 08:21 AM
I use Federal American Eagle 230 gr FMJ, because it seems to be the most accurate of over-the-counter FMJ, it feeds everything, and it's what I practice with.

While in the Army I also had a chance to look at a book from the Army Medical Corps called something like "The Wound Book" - that's what we called it. After seeing what soldiers looked like after getting hit by either 9mmP or .45, I don't worry about what might improve on the FMJ - it seemed to generally blow a big hole out the back of an enemy, knocking them onto their back where they died in a big pool of blood. I thus always try to stay out of any situation where I would have to shoot someone as a result.

Dave Markowitz
June 27, 2004, 09:01 AM
My .45 ACP defense gun is a S&W Model 625, so I don't have to worry about bullet shape affecting reliability. That said, it's currently loaded with WWB hardball. It's what I have, and while it may not be the "best" load, it's been proven to work pretty darn well since 1911. Eventually I may move to a good JHP but in the meantime, I'm pretty comfortable with FMJ.

June 28, 2004, 01:42 AM
I had the strong urge to type "eany meany mineny moe" ;)

Really though, I pick some premium JHP's that expands well in more than one test medium and has been in use for a while. Once upon a time I sold police depts ammo and sometimes get feedback from them. I test for accuracy and pick 1 or 2 to test for reliability. After a couple hundred trouble free rounds, I buy a bunch to last for a while. When I start to get low, I do it all again.


Sean Smith
June 28, 2004, 09:17 AM
I actually do my research, look at performance in standardized tests, etc., then I test it in my gun to see if it is reliable and accurate and has an acceptable amount of muzzle flash.

Hence Winchester Ranger-T 230gr (non +P) or Remington Golden Saber 230gr.

Ky Larry
June 28, 2004, 09:32 AM
I carry Winchester 230 gr JHP in my Kimber. My local Wally World had it on clearance for $14 for a box of 50. I shot a box and it was accurate and reliable. I went back and bought all they had (9 boxes). After 500 rounds with no problems I bought some more and have been carrying it for CCW.

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