The Most Potent Self Defense Rounds

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Jan 17, 2003

SELF DEFENSE Ammunition manufactured in the United States is among the finest in the world. For potential defensive use, the gun owner will not go wrong in selecting ammunition produced by the most widely recognized manufacturers. These include CCI/Speer, Cor-Bon, Federal, Remington, and Winchester. Munitions available at the Armory include those produced by the first three of these manufacturers. Avoid ammunition that is hand loaded, re-loaded, or of foreign manufacture when choosing defensive rounds.

Bullets come in a wide variety of shapes, metals, and multi-metal composites. Bullet types commonly encountered in self-defense applications are summarized as follows:

FMJ Full Metal Jacket. The round-nosed bullet is enclosed on its top and sides in a hard metal jacket, usually consisting of an alloy of copper or occasionally mild steel. The base of the bullet is open, exposing a lead core. The bullet design is not conducive to either expansion or deformation. According to terms of the Hague Convention of 1899, and subsequently the Geneva Convention, this is the only type of bullet permitted in small arms during warfare. It is also referred to as "ball" ammunition.
Jacketed Hollow Point. The bullet is constructed of a soft lead core enclosed in a hard metal jacket. The top of the bullet has an opening in the jacket, exposing a hollow lead core. Upon impact, the bullet is forced to open up and expand. This results in less penetration, but greater tissue damage due to the larger diameter of the now expanded bullet.


Lead Hollow Point. The bullet is similar to a JHP, but is constructed completely of lead and has no jacket.

Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point. This bullet is similar to a JHP, but the jacket does not completely cover the lead core. A small section of core at the top of the bullet is left exposed. This older bullet design is still common in the .38 Special, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum calibers.


Lead Round Nose


Lead Wadcutter. The bullet is flat-nosed.

Recommendations regarding handgun ammunition for self defense follow:

.22 LR (Long Rifle) Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 21-34% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

CCI "Stinger" LHP 32 grains 34%
Federal LHP 38 grains 30%
Winchester LHP 37 grains 29%
Remington LHP 36 grains 27%

In a perfect world, the intended victim would be relying on a caliber larger than the .22 for self defense. In such a perfect world, why would one need to defend themselves in the first place? Consider the .22 to be an imperfect solution to a real world necessity, or put differently "something is better than nothing". The diminutive .22 makes sense with citizens reluctant to pack or carry a larger caliber handgun. Some fine .22 caliber pocket autoloaders exist, and 8- to 10-shot .22 caliber revolvers are extremely fun to shoot. Use .22LR ammunition only.

The recommended CCI "Stinger" will cycle reliably in the excellent Beretta 21A and Walther TPH pistols. Remington's "Yellow Jacket", 33 grain cartridge will also work well. The inexpensive Jennings J-22 pistol is more reliable when fed LRN standard velocity ammunition. Consider Winchester LRN, 40 grains, even though the one shot stopping success of this round is only 21%.

In a revolver, consider using Remington's "Viper" cartridge, which features a non-expanding truncated nose bullet.

Because ammunition is cheap, there exists no excuse for not developing required shooting skills. Marksmanship is crucial with a .22 in a defensive situation, so practice drawing your firearm and rapidly peppering objects from ten to twenty-five feet away. Cans, melons, and discarded bowling pins make ideal targets. Bowling pins used to be free, but now a nominal cost is usually involved to obtain them.

The .22 autoloader must be kept free of gunk, dust, and grit to function reliably. Make sure to keep the firearm meticulously clean and properly lubricated. Replace unused .22 ammunition in the magazine at least every six months or so because it tends to misfire when subjected to temperature and weather extremes over a period of time.

.22 Magnum Caliber: (.22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire; WMR)
One Shot Stopping Success: 40 -42 % (Theoretical)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester JHP 40 grains
CCI +P JHP 30 grains

Ruger makes a fine single action revolver capable of shooting both the .22 LR and .22 Magnum cartridges. This is accomplished by means of interchangeable cylinders, each intended to accommodate the differing length cartridges. The barrel of the gun is suited to either caliber since they are both .22.

.25 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 22-25% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester "XP"
JHP 45 grains 25%
Winchester FMJ 50 grains 23%
Federal FMJ 50 grains 22%
Remington FMJ 50 grains 22%

Try the JHP round to see if it functions reliably in your auto- loading pistol. The rule of thumb is to shoot 200 rounds without a jam as the test of reliability. The JHP reportedly works well in Beretta 950 and 21A .25 caliber pistols. The Walther TPH in .25 caliber should be loaded with FMJ.

The .25 ACP cartridge was developed as an alternative to the .22 LR for use in autoloading pistols. The former, a center-fired cartridge, provides a degree of dependability not found in the .22 LR, which is a rim-fired cartridge. Which of these calibers of autoloading pistol should an individual consider purchasing for self-defense? Neither. Buy a .22 LR autoloader for fun because ammunition is inexpensive and the firearm will likely experience considerable use as a plinker. For self defense, consider the .32 ACP to be the minimum acceptable caliber when deep concealment is an issue.

.32 ACP Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 50-63% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 60 grains 63%
Winchester FMJ 71 grains 50%

The Beretta .32 ACP "Tomcat", loaded with Winchester "Silvertip", 60 grains, is certainly a viable defensive concealable handgun. It is enjoyable to shoot, a feature that encourages practice and, hence, proper shot placement during any potential encounter with a violent aggressor. Penetration can be expected to be in the range of 6 to 8 inches.

Most of the common .32 ACP autoloaders on the market are only reliable with FMJ. These include Llama, Walther PP and PPK, Czech CZ-24 and CZ-70, Davis P-32, and Colt Pocket Model, among others.

.32 Smith & Wesson Long Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: Data Not Available
Recommended Cartridge:

Federal LW 98 grains

This is an obsolete revolver caliber.

.380 ACP Caliber: (9 mm Short, 9 x 17 mm, 9 mm Kurz)
One Shot Stopping Success: 51-70% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon +P JHP 90 grains 70%
Federal "Hydra-Shok" JHP 90 grains 69%
Federal JHP 90 grains 69%
Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 85grains 61%
CCI JHP 88grains 58%
Remington JHP 88 grains 57%

The .380 ACP, or "three eighty auto", represents a higher level of self-protection insurance when compared to smaller calibers, with penetration ranging from 8 to 10 inches. In fact, the top three recommended .380 ACP cartridges outperform the larger .38 Special when the latter is fired from a 2-inch snub nose revolver. The "snubby" has a long history as a favorite concealment firearm of the law enforcement community.

The Cor-Bon +P, JHP is the most powerful .380 ACP round. The Federal "Hydra-Shok" is the best standard pressure .380 ACP round. These cartridges will feed reliably in the SIG/Sauer P230, Beretta 84/85, Browning BDA, Czech CZ-83, H&K P7K3, and Walther PPK and PPK/s.

Makarov pistols of Russian, East German, Chinese, and Bulgarian manufacture will stand up to the potent Cor-Bon cartridge due to their all steel construction. The round feeds reliably in these guns. The Colt .380 ACP also performs well with the Cor-Bon round.

The Remington JHP, 88 grains, is the most reliable feeding cartridge due to the rounded shape of the bullet. In the last decade, it was redesigned to provide deeper penetration. Positive feeding can be expected in Colt Government Model .380, H&K HK4, Taurus PT-58, older Walther PP and PPK, Bersa .380, Beretta 70's, Makarov and Hungarian FEG.

A number of rounds recommended because of their proven ability to produce one shot stops may not feed reliably in some makes of handguns. The Winchester Silvertip, JHP, works well in modern SIG/Sauers and Berettas of European design, but will tend to jam in handguns of American design. Russian .380 Makarovs and the Walther PPK series handguns are also jam prone as well with this cartridge.

The truncated cone bullet nose profile of the Federal JHP, 90 grains, also may not be conducive to reliable feeding in many .380 autoloaders.

Stick to the top two recommended cartridges, Cor-Bon +P and Federal "Hydra-Shok". If the firearm is subject to jamming with these rounds, switch to the Remington JHP.

Federal FMJ, 95 grains, has a 51% one shot stopping success. This cartridge is well suited for use in the Davis P-380, Accu-Tek, EAA -380, Tanarmi, AMT/OMC/TDE "Backup", Heritage, FIE, Jennings, Bryco, Lorcin, Llama, and other low-priced handguns. The JHP ammunition should never be considered for use in these firearms.

9 mm Makarov Caliber: (9 x 18 mm)
One Shot Stopping Success: Data Not Available
Recommended Cartridge:

Cor-Bon JHP 95 grains

Cor-Bon manufactures the only JHP on the market for this caliber. It is totally reliable in all East-Bloc pistols.

.38 Special Caliber: 2-inch Barrel
One Shot Stopping Success: 49-67% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester +P LHP 158 grains 67%
Federal +P LHP 158 grains 66%
Federal +P JHP 125 grains 65%
Remington +P LHP 158 grains 65%
CCI +P JHP 125 grains 64%

Ammunition labeled +P (for extra pressure) should be used only in steel framed revolvers approved by the manufacturer for such use. Ultra high pressure loads, such as the Cor-Bon +P+, JHP, 115 grains, should be used only in extremely sturdy revolvers such as the Ruger SP101.

Standard pressure (non +P) rounds are suited for use in aluminum frame snub nose revolvers such as the Smith & Wesson Model 38 Bodyguard, 642, 442, 37, or Colt Cobra. Firing a few (less than 100) rounds of +P ammunition probably won't ruin the gun, but extended use of +P cartridges will cause some damage. Accuracy with a light weight snubby is extremely susceptible to the unpleasant blast and kick produced by +P ammunition. The gun is much more controllable in rapid fire with standard pressure rounds. Acceptable ammunition includes the Federal "Nyclad", LHP, 125 grains, which was designed to expand at lower velocities, and the Winchester "Silvertip", JHP, 110 grains.

The ability to control a snub nose revolver is greatly improved by the addition of after market rubber grips to replace the wooden factory grips.

.38 Special Caliber: 4-inch Barrel
One Shot Stopping Success: 51-83 % (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon +P+ JHP 115 grains 83%
Winchester +P LHP 158 grains 78%
Federal +P LHP 158 grains 77%
Federal +P JHP 125 grains 73%
Remington +P SJHP 125 grains 73%
Winchester +P+ JHP 110 grains 71%
CCI +P JHP 125 grains 70%
Remington +P LHP 158 grains 69%

Surprising, the very high pressure Cor-Bon produces less felt recoil and muzzle flip when compared to the second-ranked recommended cartridge. However, it should be used only in modern 6-shot revolvers.

The 158 grain recommendations are known as the "FBI" or "Chicago" loads. They are proven manstoppers, about on par with .45 caliber ball. All fixed sight .38 Special revolvers are regulated at the factory to shoot point-of-aim with this load. Lighter grained bullets will tend to shoot lower.

For practice, it is economical to shoot CCI JHP, 158 grains, in the inexpensive aluminum-cased "Blazer" line. This round duplicates the ballistics and recoil of the FBI load without fouling the handgun barrel with lead deposits, which are extremely difficult to remove during cleaning.

The admonition concerning +P ammunition is again reiterated: restrict the use of +P loads to steel framed .38 Special revolvers only. Use standard pressure loads in aluminum-framed revolvers. Shooting less than 50 rounds of +P ammunition in an aluminum framed revolver probably won't hurt it. Shooting more than 100 probably will. Why not practice with standard pressure loads, and carry +P ammunition in an aluminum frame revolver when packing it for self-defense? The kick of a +P round is severe, and inhibits accurate repeat shots. With standard pressure ammunition, proper shot placement and rapid delivery of subsequent hits is enhanced. The best standard pressure .38 Special load is the Federal "Nyclad", LHP, 125 grains. This round is known as the "Chief's Special" load. The Winchester "Silvertip", JHP, 110 grains, is another acceptable standard pressure .38 Special cartridge.

Penetration of .38 Special rounds can be expected to be on the order of 8 to 10 inches.
9 mm Parabellum Caliber: (9 mm Lugar, 9 mm NATO, 9 x 19 mm, 9 mm)
One Shot Stopping Success: 63-91% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon +P JHP 115 grains 91%
Federal +P+ JHP 115 grains 90%
Winchester +P+ JHP 115 grains 90%
Remington +P+ JHP 115 grains 89%
Federal "Hydra-Shok" +P+ JHP 124 grains 86%
Federal "Nyclad" LHP 124 grains 84%
Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 115 grains 83%
Federal JHP 115 grains 82%
Remington JHP 115 grains 81%
Federal "Hydra-Shok" JHP 124 grains 81%
CCI JHP 115 grains 79%

The 9 mm is the world's most popular pistol cartridge. In FMJ, with a one shot stopping success of only 63%, the 9 mm is not a superlative manstopper. Use ball ammunition for practice only. Use JHP for self defense. This cartridge exhibits penetration of 10 to 12 inches.

Ammunition for the 9 mm is available in three pressure classes: standard pressure, high pressure "+P", and ultra high pressure "+P+". High pressure rounds should be used only in newer handguns manufactured since approximately 1985. It is best to use this ammunition sparingly. The most powerful high pressure round, the Cor-Bon +P, JHP, 115 grains, is the best cartridge in 9 mm for self defense use due to its proven performance in real world aggressive encounters. In older guns, however, it may either not cycle properly or be too powerful. The best standard pressure cartridges are the Federal "Nyclad", LHP, 124 grains, and 115 grain, JHP ammunition produced by any of the top five manufacturers.

For modern guns that may jam with the Cor-Bon or Federal JHP, the Remington +P, JHP, 115 grains, may be a reliable alternative. The standard pressure Remington JHP, 115 grains, is well suited for use in most older guns.

Never use any 9 mm JHP or LHP ammunition that is heavier than 124 grains. Don't purchase 147 grain ammunition for any reason because it is a poor performer and is prone to jamming.

The following 9 mm pistols are of extremely high quality and can be expected to reliably feed and accommodate 9 mm +P, JHP ammunition: SIG/Sauer P220 series; Czech CZ-75 and CZ-85; Walther P5, P5C, P88; Heckler and Koch USP and P7 series; Glocks (all); Rugers (all); Taurus PY-99, PT-92, and PT-92C; Steyr GB; Beretta 92 series; Browning BDM and Hi-Power (if "Portugal" is stamped on the slide); Smith & Wesson four-digit model number series; Smith & Wesson 900 series; Star M28, M30, M31; Firestar (all); Megastars (all); and Ultrastars (all).

High quality pistols that may not feed all JHP ammunition reliably include the following: Smith & Wesson three-and two-digit model number series; Heckler and Koch VP70 and P9S; Beretta "Brigadier" M1951; Interarms "Helwan"; Colt M2000 "All American"; Colt series 70 Government Model and series 70 Commander; Astra A-70, A-75, and A-100; AMT "On Duty"; Daewoo; Bersa "Thunder 9"; EAA "Witness"; Other CZ-75 copies, including Tanfoglio, Tanarmi, and Springfield Armory P9; Taurus PT-908; Walther P4; Star BK, BKM, Model B and "Super"; Browning Hi-Power (if "Portugal" is not stamped on the slide); Llama Model 82; and IMI "Jericho" and "Kareen". Remington JHP, 115 grains, is the ammunition recommended for the foregoing pistols.

The following pistols should be loaded with ball ammunition to ensure reliable operation. Winchester FMJ, 115 grains, which exhibits a 63% one shot stopping success, is recommended. Walther P38, P4, or P1; Luger; Llama; Maverick; MKS Model JS; Intratec CAT-9, DC-9, KG-9; SWD Cobray Model 11/9 and similar models; Scarab Scorpion; Kimel AP-9; Bryco Jennings Model 59; KBI Hungarian pistols, including GKK, PJ9C, P9HK, and other "FEG" products; Norinco or Sportarms Chinese Tokarev pistols; Lahti; Radom; and MAB P15 and Model 1950.

The foregoing guidelines regarding ammunition selection for various makes and models of 9 mm pistols are based on the generalized reputation and performance of these particular firearms. To see if a particular pistol will reliably feed JHP ammunition, it is advisable to fire at least 200 rounds of a selected JHP cartridge to properly ascertain a pistol's ability to properly cycle that round.

.38 Super Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: Data Not Available
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon JHP 115 or 124 grains
Winchester JHP 115 or 124 grains
Remington JHP 115 or 124 grains

The Remington JHP may be the most reliable functioning cartridge in many pistols, particularly Colts and Colt M1911A1 copies produced by Springfield Armory and Auto-Ordnance. With JHP ammunition, the Llama tends to jam. Use FMJ instead in 115 or 124 grains.

.357 SIG Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 59-89% (Theoretical)
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon "Sierra" JHP 115 grains 89%
Federal JHP 125 grains 88%
Hornady "XTP" JHP 124 grains 87%
CCI "Gold Dot" JHP 125 grains 86%

This cartridge was developed to fill the same niche occupied by the .40 Smith & Wesson.

.357 Magnum Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 68-96% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Remington JHP 125 grains 96%
Federal JHP 125 grains 96%
CCI JHP 125 grains 93%
Federal JHP 110 grains 90%
Remington SJHP 110 grains 89%
Winchester JHP 125 grains 87%

The .357 Magnum, in Remington or Federal JHP, 125 grains, is unquestionably the most effective handgun cartridge in existence. Its proven ability to produce one shot stops exceeds that of any other round, including more powerful cartridges such as the .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum. Penetration is 10 to 12 inches.

If there is any downside to using the .357 Magnum for self-defense, it would relate to the blast and kick of full power loads. Controllability is extremely important in follow-up shot placement, and self-defense requires that shots be fired rapidly and accurately.

For those uncomfortable with the buck and roar of full-load .357 Magnum rounds, there exist a variety of lower recoil cartridges that are equally well suited to self defensive purposes. Because the .357 Magnum is such an incredible manstopper, little is lost by "downgrading" to more temperate ammunition.

The following cartridges are recommended for those who desire to reduce recoil of the .357 Magnum cartridge. Rounds are listed in decreasing order of recoil severity:

Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 145 grains 85%
Remington "Golden Saber" JHP 125 grains 84%
Federal JHP 110 grains 90%
Remington "Medium Velocity" JHP 125 grains 83%
Cor-Bon JHP 115 grains NA

For 2.5-inch and 3-inch short-barreled Magnum revolvers, the last two recommended cartridges represent excellent self-defense rounds. These cartridges are ideal for snub nose revolvers like the Smith & Wesson Models 66, 19, 65, and 13; the Colt King Cobra; the Ruger GP100 and especially the small frame Ruger SP101. Ammunition manufactured by Remington, Federal, CCI or Winchester in JHP, 110 grains, is also a good choice for use in snubbies or by those sensitive to recoil.

If recoil from a .357 Magnum revolver is still perceived to be excessive, considering carrying the .38 Special Cor-Bon +P+, JHP, 115 grains. This lighter round packs plenty of stopping power (83%). Its use may encourage accurate placement of multiple shots in a self defense situation due to its reduced kick when compared to the .357 Magnum.

Note that a .357 Magnum revolver can shoot both .357 and .38 Special ammunition. A .38 Special revolver can only shoot .38 Special ammunition.

For those owners of a Taurus or Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver that is still equipped with factory wooden grips, consider installing recoil-absorbing, ergonomic rubber grips. The difference in control afforded by these grips is enormous, and greatly aids rapid and accurate shooting.

For self defense, never carry soft points, semi-wadcutters, or any 158 grain or 180 grain JHP ammunition. These types of .357 Magnum cartridges are better suited to target shooting and hunting. The kick of the heavier bullets is correspondingly severe, possibly inhibiting follow up shots and accuracy when used to defend against aggression. For practice, the all lead bullets are acceptable, but there are better choices, as the shooter will quickly discover when it is time to laboriously clean the lead fouling from the gun. When selecting .357 Magnum cartridges for self protection, an individual can't go wrong by choosing JHP, 110 to 125 grains, made by any of the top five manufacturers.

.40 Smith & Wesson Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 71-96% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon "Nosler" JHP 135 grains 96%
Federal JHP 155 grains 94%
Remington "Golden Saber" JHP 165 grains 94%
Federal "Hydra-Shok" JHP 155 grains 93%
Cor-Bon JHP 150 grains 92%
Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 155 grains 91%
Federal "Hydra-Shok" JHP 180 grains 89%
Cor-Bon +P JHP 180 grains 86%

This relatively new caliber is establishing an excellent record in real world shootings as a potent self defense round. Penetration can be expected to range from 10 to 12 inches. The lighter bullet choices in this caliber, manufactured by any of the top five producers, have the edge over the heavier 180 grain loads. Recoil of the 135 to 155 grain rounds is also less.

10 mm Caliber: Medium Velocity (10 mm Light)
One Shot Stopping Success: 81-82% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester JHP 180 grains 82%
Federal JHP 180 grains 81%
Remington JHP 180 grains 81%

A relatively recent development from the late 1980's, the 10 mm cartridge did not live up to expectations. It hasn't turned out to be better than 9 mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP JHP ammunition.

This round is available in two power levels: medium velocity, used by the FBI, and "full house". Restrict self defense applications to the medium velocity cartridge, which exhibits penetration from 10 to 12 inches. As an alternative to the "proven" 180 grain load, consider using one of the lighter variants.

Cor-Bon "Nosler" JHP 135 grains
Federal "Hydra-Shok" JHP 155 grains
Federal JHP 155 grains

10 mm full-house rounds kick heavily, blow right through an assailant and are very hard on one's gun. Their use is best left to hunting.

.41 Magnum Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 74-89% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 175 grains 89%
Winchester JHP 210 grains 82%
Remington JHP 210 grains 81%

The Winchester "Silvertip", JHP, 175 grains, is the proven choice for self defense in this hard kicking caliber. Although not street proven yet, the Remington SJHP, 170 grains, may be worth investigating.

.44 Special Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 65-75% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 200 grains 75%
Federal LHP 200 grains 73%

The Winchester "Silvertip", JHP, 200 grains, stands out as the best round in this caliber. The Cor-Bon JHP, 180 grains, although unproven, may have merit.

.44 Magnum Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 76-90% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 210 grains 90%
Federal JHPP 180 grains 89%
Remington SJHP 240 grains 88%
Winchester JHP 240 grains 84%
Federal JHP 240 grains 80%

The blast and kick of this powerful caliber make it less than optimal for self defense. Penetration is 12 to 14 inches. In addition to the top two recommended rounds, consider the Cor-Bon JHP, 180 grains.

Keep in mind that a gun chambered for .44 Magnum is also capable to shooting the .44 Special. The reverse is not applicable.

.45 ACP Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: 63-94% (Actual)
Recommended Cartridges:

Federal "Hydra-Shok" JHP 230 grains 94%
Remington "Gold Sabre" JHPP 230 grains 93%
Cor-Bon JHP 185 grains 92%
Remington +P JHPP 185 grains 91%
CCI "Lawman" JHP 200 grains 88%
Federal JHP 185 grains 87%

Penetration of .45 ACP is 10 to 12 inches. The Federal "Hydra-Shok", JHP, 230 grains, gives the most stopping power in the potent .45 ACP caliber. Another excellent load from Federal is the JHP, 185 grains. This round is well suited to a compact, short-barreled .45 pistol like the Colt Officer's ACP or the S & W 4516. It has lighter recoil than the Federal "Hydra-Shok", 230 grain, or CCI "Lawman", 200 grain bullets. Because of its higher velocity, the Federal JHP, 185 grains, is more likely to expand out of a short 3.5-inch barrel.

The CCI "Lawman", also known as the "Inspector" or "Flying Ashtray", is a wide-mouth JHP bullet that may jam in some guns. This round is totally reliable in newer pistols like the current production "enhanced" Colt 1911A1; the SIG/Sauer P220; Star M45, Firestar, and Megastar; Smith & Wesson .45 pistols (all); Para-Ordnance .45 pistols (all); Ruger .45 pistols (all); and the Smith & Wesson Model 625 revolver.

The Remington JHP, 185 grains, with a one shot stopping success of 81%, is the best choice for older pistols that may jam with other JHP ammunition. This load is adapted to the Heckler and Koch P9S; Browning BDA; Springfield Armory M1911A1; AMT M1911A1; Thompson M1911A1; Llama; and Star PD.

The Cor-Bon and Remington +P, JHP, 185 grains, are very powerful, hard kicking rounds best left to the experienced shooter. They are second only to the famed Federal "Hydra-Shok", 230 grains, for stopping power. These two cartridges are also hard on a pistol, especially an aluminum framed pistol like the SIG/Sauer P220 or Colt Lightweight Commander.

The .45 ACP "hardball' load, FMJ, 230 grains, is the only ball ammunition in any caliber that should be considered for self defense. Remington, Federal, and Winchester all manufacture this round. One shot stopping success is 65%. Don't compromise on reliability. If your pistol can accommodate only ball ammunition, then load it only with ball. The Llama, Federal Ordinance, AMT, and Auto-Ordnance M1911A1 copies often jam with anything but FMJ ammunition. As previously suggested, try the Remington JHP, 185 grains. If reliability is a problem, stick with FMJ.

.45 Colt Caliber:
One Shot Stopping Success: Data Not Available
Recommended Cartridges:

Cor-Bon JHP 200 grains
Winchester "Silvertip" JHP 225 grains
Federal LHP 225 grains

For self defense, a good double action revolver is preferred to a single action cowboy or hunting gun.
This answers a question I was just going to post......My carry gun is a SP101,2.25in.I've been carrying Federal 38+p+ jhp,and was wondering if I should carry 357's.I'll probably stick w/ the 38's because follow-up shots will be easier.....great post!:cool:
Good info. from one source that should be used in considering one's choice of sidearm.

I've been working through some figures for months now and decided this is what I want in a sidearm: reliability, power, concealment, shootability, capacity, and the ability to do quick reloads.

Reilability counts for 50%, power for 20%, the rest less than that.

You can also break down ammo by best stopping percentages for standard pressure and +p pressure, and by barrel length. Most of those .357 Magnum specs., I bet, are from 4" or 6" barrels, not from the snubbies that make for better CCW. Same with the .45 ACP -- probably from a full-sized 5" Govt. barrel, not a commander or officer's model or a mini-Glock. This affects shootability and bullet performance.

Heck, based on OSS pecentages alone, a .380 ACP is better than a .38 Special snubnose. But I don't think I'll be carrying a .380. Already tried that with a Walther PPK/S, and a .32 ACP Seecamp. No thanks. I'll stick to my S&W 642.

I think when you get down to it, there's not a whole lot of difference between (these are my top CCW choices) a S&W Model 19 snubbie, a Colt Combat Commander, a Browning Hi Power, or Glock Models 19 and 23 if you use the best ammo available and practice a lot.
be it noted that none are 100% effective, according to these tables. is this why we are advised to shoot the BG more than once? do two shots from a 50 percenter make for 100 percent? yes, i jest.

i sincerely doubt any of us will fire one and wait to see if mr. bg falls down. where the bullet strikes will skew all statistics. personaly, i will be very busy with my trigger until all motion ceases, whatever the caliber.
I will explain why it is junk science, Blain.

First, here's why the theory of a "one shot stop" is utter pablum: It doesn't take into account the CIRCUMSTANCES behind the shooting. If there were 10 shootings all with .22LR pistols discharged direct from muzzle into ears of victims in assassination style shootings and, undoubtedly, the victims fell flat, that would give the .22LR a 100% "one shot stop" rate if there were no other shootings queried as data. Then, you have people thinking this is the same as a COM shot from a .22LR at ten feet. It also doesn't take into account the physiology of the victims. Some people will be stopped 100% by a .177 pellet out of a Hurricane pellet pistol. And it also doesn't take into account WHERE these "one shot" bullets struck. Chest? Abdomen? Groin? Legs? It tries to create this "magic bullet" syndrome and people that fall for it are being tragically mislead into believing in something that might cost them their lives. They are believing in fictional BS not far removed from a Hollywood cutting-room floor instead of believing their own eyes by practice with several loads and/or calibers and picking the best in terms of accuracy and reliabity.

Second, it makes very broad assumptions about what is or is not an effective load given ther parameters. Such as: Did the load penetrate "X-X" inches before expanding? Did it NEED to penetrate "X-X" inches before reliably expanding? What about clothing? Was the load adversely affected by cloth filling up the hollowpoint? See? If I went to certain African nations, I could provide cases by which to state that the common bow-and-arrow with a crude iron tipped arrow gives a 60% one shot stop. The parameters in that region allow me that leeway. But that doesn't mean that the bow becomes more effective than certain firearms calibers.

Third, loads that are effective depend more on how accurate they are in a given shooter's hands. There are people who cannot shoot certain calibers if their lives depended on it (and in self-defense situations, it does.) To think, "Well, I HAVE to shoot this magnum load and caliber because so-and-so says it has a 'one shot stop rate of 80%', even though I cannot reliably hit a pie plate at ten paces more than one out of ten times." Peoples' hands and tolerances vary and those that can shoot .45ACP very well might not have luck with other calibers and those who shoot 9mm exceptionally well might not shoot .45ACP well enough to appreciate any advantage in bullet size and grain weight. As such, those folks should stick to what is most accurate out of their hands. The ONLY thing that came out of Hollywood that is a valuable thing for shooting is: "Aim small, miss small." And that was actually coined by the blackpowder shooting advisor and adopted for the movie when they heard him saying it. Pick a spot, as they say in archery. Equipment will not save you. YOU will save you. There was a case some years back where a guy who regularly practices with swords used a sword and killed two armed home invasions robbers who were armed with handguns. Here, again, the man used the weapon he A.) Had available. And. B.) Was highly skilled with. He took a sword to a gunfight and came out on top because he was skilled with that weapon. Training only goes so far. Lots of places train for fast draws, but the "shootists" back in the day of the late 1800s knew that quick did not always kill, but accuracy did. If you can keep your cool and place rounds where the vitals live inside the body, you will prevail. Rely on self, not questionable statistics.

Finally, don't be so quick to come down on folks like Sean Smith and Lone Gunman. They've probably been shooting handguns a lot longer than you have. By your own admission, you only recently purchased your first handgun. So, listen to what those guys have to say. If it wasn't utter BS, they would not have said so. Don't feel bad. I actually fell for some of that "one shot stop" crap until I did some research by actual balisticians like Fackler and discovered it to be BS. The biggest seller in Colt's history prior to cartridge firearms was the little bitty cap-and-ball .31 caliber 1849 Pocket Revolver. Not much better than a .22LR. But from across a card table, it killed plenty of people. If we could compile statistics, it might even have a 80% "one shot stop" rate. But that wasn't what made it formidable. What made it deadly was that people shoved it into a vital area before pulling the trigger. This in a day when medical care was poor, at best, and ANY lead ball in the body was sure death if infection set in. James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok killed all the people he did with a .36 cap-and-ball Navy, a caliber about on-par with a .380ACP. Many of those "one shot stops" like with Dave Tutt, for example, who he shot from like 60 feet away. He chose the .36 over the bigger .44 for the balance of the 1851 Navy and the accuracy and controllability of the caliber. Hickok often practiced daily and asked why he continued to use cap-and-ball Navies when cartridge pistols were available remarked, "I must be SURE." What he was alluding to was the regular misfires of early cartridges. By using a cap-and-ball, Hickok could inspect every component to ensure success. He could KNOW the powder was good and inspect every percussion cap. Point? This was a man who was confident in himself, his weapons, and practiced often and inspected everything meticulously for serviceability and was so deadly in fact and by reputation the man who killed him had to sneak up behind him to do it.
The biggest issue is where did the data come from. As noted, it reeks of Marshall and Sanow. The problem is that M&S's data is very suspect and the math used to determine "one shot stops" is simply inaccurate.

Garbage in, garbage out. Once we know the data is suspect, the conclusions are by definition incorrect.

Bain, thanks for the effort though. It was a fine attempt. :)
So speaks Sir Galahad:

And it also doesn't take into account WHERE these "one shot" bullets struck.


The Marshall & Sanow stats (which all that is obviously ripped from) ONLY counts "solid torso hits" & also only counts incidents when ONE round hit and one round stopped the BG.

I'm pretty sure me and you have been through this debate back in the one I started asking the poll question: "Do you believe inthe M& S stats?".

I do believe the thread was locked after about 4 pages of debate/bickering. I'm sure this one will have a similar fate.


edit: found the thread:

My father-in-law raised Hereford bulls for decades. And upon occasion I've helped him out in the bull yard. As a result, I've always regarded myself as being somewhat more of an expert on the finer points of B.S. than most people. And with that being said:

What I find to be the most odiferous concept here is indeed, all the arguing & bickering. It is noticable, for those who care to do so, that the detracters of the work of M&S offer no alternatives. As in; OK, what ammunition do YOU recommend?

Since none seem to be doing that, I can't follow up with; 'and what back-up research have YOU done to support YOUR recommendation(s)?

It's about this time that the shallow end of the gene pool is going to conclude that I slavishly follow the data trends put forth by Marshall & Sanow. Nope. I've used the same ammo in my carry gun for years. I'm confident with it. What it is, is my business & perhaps that of the homicide investigation team & coroner, but not necessarily yours.

I do salulte M&S for producing data to the best of their ability & putting it forth for the rest of us. I believe that they do so with the best of intentions and integrity. Calling their test methodology into question is indeed legitimate - if and only if - you can back it up with your own data. I haven't seen that here form the detracters.

Calling their test methodology into question is indeed legitimate - if and only if - you can back it up with your own data.

Why? If "scientist A" makes a few bizarre claims and backs them up with incomplete data, there is nothing wrong with "scientist B" calling out the obvious BS and moving on. If we had to refute every ridiculous, patently incomplete scientific claim with our own fully executed science, we'd waste all our time dismissing BS and get nowhere.
Blain has just given us the link to an e-merchant called The ammo verbiage is from their website evidently as a help to prospective customers.

For more reliable and scientific discussions of stopping power see The Terminal Effects Forum on the Tactical Forums website: Here :)

I am not familiar with CCI Lawman ammo. I am familiar with Speer Lawman ammo and it is NOT hollowpoint as noted for the CCI Lawman round. I can't verify it, but in a couple of places I have seen that the old CCI Lawman ammo is now marketed as Gold Dot. The Lawman name is not relegated to FMJ ball.

I was also surprised about the comment of not using foreign ammo for defense. The comment is overly generalized and gives the impression that domestic ammo is always better that foreign. That certainly is not the case.

Blain, just curious, if you thought this information was insightful, why not just state that aspect and then post the link to the site from which you simply copied everything?

I notice that the information presented is by a company that sells ammo. I am not sure if all their information is purely to inform consumers or help their sales. I noticed that they don't seem to carry foreign ammo. Hmm.

While a lot of info is presented, they seem to have forgotten to mention the sources for their claims. Some can be recognized from particular studies, but much cannot.
The comments from the article about the 10mm being much like the .40S&W are, apparently, with lower power 10mm loads. The article mentions...

"...10 mm full-house rounds kick heavily, blow right through an assailant and are very hard on one's gun. Their use is best left to hunting. ..."

The Glock 20 seems to handle the 10mm quite well. It is also more comforable to shoot than most .357Magnum revolvers. With a correctly constructed bullet I'm sure the 10mm would be at the top of the list of for effectiveness as a defensive round. Too bad they didn't test the 10mm 175gr Win Silvertip and I don't think that is as hot as the old Norma 170gr loads.

It is hard to have a reasonably heavy .40 cal bullet traveling at the speeds a 10mm can produce, not be effective.

Thundercleese said:

45 Colt as a self defense round? Say goodbye to the bad guy....and your hearing.

:scrutiny: HUH?


The vast majority of .45 Colt "defense" loads are VERY gentle and not particulary loud. You must be thinking of the .454 loads.
Good point Thundercleese. I think webhobbit also said it best, "HUH?....Can't hear you anymore!" I would think most people would almost prefer to hear the gentle pop of .22 than the roar of a .357 in such close quarters as home defense but there's got to be a personally acceptable balance between power and loss of hearing.

I think the data might be a little inaccurate....don't know for sure cuz' I'm not as smart as most of you fellers (yet)!

But my perception of calibers has always been in line with the average conclusion of Blain's post. I feel pretty confident in keeping my .380 ready if the need arises.

I can't argue the science of the matter, but certainly can see where argument is merited. And as for "one shot stopping power"?? If I shoot AT the bad guy once and miss, and he turns around and gets out of my house, then I consider that 100%stopping power!
Thanks for the post Blain. I learned something from your post as well as all of the replies.
Have a great Monday.
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