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What type of ammunition is best in self-defense?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by GuyWithQuestions, Dec 30, 2007.


What handgun ammunition would you prefer for self-defense?

  1. Federal Hydra-Shok

    18 vote(s)
  2. Speer Gold Dot

    28 vote(s)
  3. Some other type of ammunition - name below

    17 vote(s)
  1. GuyWithQuestions

    GuyWithQuestions Member

    Jul 24, 2006
    Right now I carry 135 grain 9mm Federal Hydra-Shok in my self-defense concealed carry firearm, but I was also thinking about Speer Gold Dot. Since I haven't ever been in a self-defense situation nor do I know much about the effectiveness of various ammunitions, I don't know what to use. What does everyone else here prefer and know about ammunition?
  2. MostlyGenius

    MostlyGenius New Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    I would choose which ever functions the best in your handgun.

    The differences between Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, etc. are trivial as far as self-defense is concerned. None of the premium JHP ammo has significant expansion under *all* conditions. All of the better brands will expand (at least some) under normal conditions. If the margin for your survival is dependent upon a few millimeters of expansion I would say shoot them again.
  3. Cowboy2

    Cowboy2 Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Hydra-shok is a relatively old (and proven) design, and a lot of people will tell you that more modern bullets, like Gold Dots, offer superior performance. Personally, I am increasingly impressed by the CorBon DPX ammo (use it in my 9mm carry gun). I usually have my .45s loaded with Gold Dots.

    The best idea is to buy some of each mainstream product, and see what functions best in your gun. Reliable feeding and function is your number one concern with SD ammo, and some guns are very finiky about what they work with. Remember, shot placement is the key in self defense. There is no magic pistol round that's best for all circumstances. If you live in a cold climate where an attacker will be wearing a lot of clothing, deep penetraton is more of an issue. If you live in a warm area, you might trade penetration for expansion.
  4. HM2PAC

    HM2PAC Active Member

    Jul 21, 2007
    Maine, USA
    I prefer/carry Speer Gold Dot.

    One of my .45's doesn't, so I'm debating trying out the Buffalo Bore +p FMJ's. I would like to have 1 SD ammo that all the various .45's will eat.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    Since I do not believe the "Magic Pistol Bullet" yet exists, either one would be fine with me, if it functions 100% in my gun.

    (Magic Rifle Bullets are another story! :D )

    Personally, I really like Hornady XTP's for function, accuracy, reliable expansion, AND deep penetration in every gun & caliber I have tried them in!

  6. tblt

    tblt member

    Dec 24, 2007

    I carry the federal hydrashock in my 38.I want to try the hornady tap ammo in my 9 mm when I get it.
  7. Noxx

    Noxx Participating Member

    Jun 8, 2007
    +1 to reliable feeders.

    All of the ballistic research in the world doesn't speed up the time it takes to clear a FTF.

    That said I use varying ammo in our pistols around the house, the Mak gets the hornady, the Seecamp has Silver-tip, so on and so forth. Recently I've changed the 9's here from CorbonJHP to Corbon DPX. The .45 still has good old 230 ball in it, three of them in the cardio-vascular triangle will surely have the desired effect. I don't use JHP in that gun because it won't feed it reliably.

    Any high quality american made SD ammo will do, provided your gun will eat it.
  8. SA Friday

    SA Friday New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    CO, but currently exiled to MD
    Any quality factory made defense ammo works as good as another. I would choose which ever one shot the most accurate out of the gun in question and go with it.
  9. Koblenz

    Koblenz New Member

    May 18, 2007
    southwest Atlanta suburbs
    I agree with the above posts. I will add to this, avoid pre-fragmented ammunition such as Glasers and Magsafe. They do not have sufficient penetration.
  10. Eric F

    Eric F Senior Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    I put the vote on Gold dot only because I have seen one pulled from a body during an autopsey. It was a .45 and I forget what it expanded to but seems like it was a 92% expansion and retained 87% of its weight IIRC

    Now here is the real issue and its been discussed in several magazines ect

    some rounds are lighter and faster than others you need to pick the one that is best suited for your gun. What I mean is this a short barrled 45acp it is good to go with the lighter faster bullets in most cases because the bullet will close to optimal speed for the must weight retention and expansion where as the same bullet in a long barrel will be going too fast and it will fragment and shed its jacket too quickly therefore not penetrating to a optimal depth. OR some thing like that
  11. ewayte

    ewayte Member

    Jul 16, 2004
    Right now, my Glock 33 is loaded with Winchester Ranger .357 SIG as my dealer had it on sale for $24.95 / box. For my wheelguns, I go with Remington Golden Saber.
  12. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Dec 24, 2002
    Forestburg, Texas
    Guy, you aren't asking the right questions. It isn't simply a matter of what model of what brand is best, so your poll is bogus in that regard. The performance of a given brand and model of slug will depending on its loading, the platform from which it is fired (especially barrel length/ability to produce velocity) the media the round will be striking, and at what velocity it will be striking the media. For example, Federal Hydrashok 230 gr. .45 acp is (or was found to be in one test) a better expander than Speer Gold Dot 230s when fired from a 5" barrel. However, a Speer Gold Dot 185 was a much better expander from a 3.16" (Kimber) barrel than anything Hydrashok was loading including 165, 185, and 230 gr slug in standard and +P configurations. So which is better? It just depends on circumstances.

    Then you have to consider issues such as whether or not you want to be penetrating barriers of some sort (walls, auto glass, sheet metal, clothing) and what performs best. Of course, barriers of various types can really disrupt terminal performance.

    As noted, there are the other issues of reliability and accuracy. Generally speaking, accuracy should not be significantly different between commercial loads and likely won't make any difference at typical self defense distances, but what if you do have to shoot long distance?

    Do you want greatest penetration or protection from over-penetration?

    The bottom line is that there is no universal best make and model of slug that spans loadings and calibers when fired from various platforms that will perform best in all areas of need.
  13. HM2PAC

    HM2PAC Active Member

    Jul 21, 2007
    Maine, USA
    Carry only ammo you have practiced with sufficiently.
    The ammo is secondary.
    The pistol is secondary.
    You are the primary.
    If you can, the ammo will.

    Aside from the theory, rhetoric, and semantics, here are a few ideas:

    1. Use the highest or second highest bullet weight.
    (e.g. 200gr or 230gr for .45ACP).

    2. Use a quality HP, unless you are certain that FMJ will give you a good result.

    3. If you live in a northern climate where people dress heavily in winter, think of +P FMJ. This will give better penetration.

    4. For 9mm, .380, 38spcl, I would use a hot HP.

    5. For .357RM,.40S&W, .45CP, 10mm I would use HP or FMJ.

    FWIW, these are my opinions. Sometimes I carry a 38spcl or .357RM, usually I carry .45ACP loaded with HP's.
  14. AndyC

    AndyC Senior Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    DFW, TX
    Once you find out what's best, let the rest of us know ;)
  15. Bailey Guns

    Bailey Guns Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    Personally, I think the question of "what ammo is best?" is overrated. Pick the factory ammo that works best in your gun.

    It is impossible to claim a single type is the "best". It may be easier to narrow down some that don't work as well, but claiming which is best is going to be much harder.

    I carry a variety of ammo in my Kimber Ultra. From FMJ to Hydra-shock to PMC Starfire. I do rotate my carry ammo frequently (because I practice with and fire my carry ammo on a pretty regular basis) so I just go with what I happen to have on hand at the time I load my gun. I seriously doubt any bad guy is gonna care on the off chance I actually have to use it. My guess is he's gonna worry more about not getting shot again rather than what caliber or type of ammo I'm shooting him with.

    Recently I've fired some of the Fed EFMJ and I kinda like the way it shoots in my Kimber.
  16. gravis86

    gravis86 New Member

    Jun 7, 2007
    Kirkland, WA
    I think Cor-Bon has the best loads for .357SIG, so that's what I use.
  17. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Jun 5, 2006
    Tacoma, WA
    I agree that training is critical. Awareness, aiming, thinking, avoiding the threat, quickly and safely drawing a weapon, and clearing a malfunctioning gun are key tools.

    For HPs I use Corbons or Speer, but I think that any leading self defense loads are fine. The differences between which maker is splitting hairs.

    I'm a big advocate of staggering HPs with FMJs. I load 2 HPs with 1 FMJ. That works in my gun and I figure gives me the best self defense combinations based on a variety of targets. HP expand more in flesh, but lack the penetration of an FMJ. FMJs penetrate more and work better at shooting through soft cover (car windshields, common household cover like bedding or a full refridgerator, etc.). There really is no significant drawback of having the FMJs in the magazine and there is a nice upside.

    NO, I don't plan to count my bullets, but I figure that I'll shoot until the threat is stopped and if the perp takes cover behind something I want to be able to hit him.
  18. moph759fl

    moph759fl New Member

    Dec 6, 2005
    SW Florida
    In my 9mm's(S&W 3913 & Beretta 9000S & KelTec PF9) I carry Federal 124 gr Hydra-Shok JHP +P+
    The 40S&W(S&W 4040PD) I use Winchester Ranger 155gr JHP and for the .357SIG(Glock 33) I carry Speer GoldDot 125gr GDHP
  19. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Elder

    Aug 11, 2005
    Elbert County, CO
    110 grain V-max as fired from an AR-10 carbine :D.

    But for handguns, I prefer Remington Golden Sabres.
  20. Pumpkinheaver

    Pumpkinheaver Participating Member

    Jun 20, 2003
    The hydra shok and gold dot are both grear SD bullets. I would buy a box of each and see what your gun likes best. Then buy several more boxes of your chosen load and make sure your gun is reliable with them.

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