Best 10mm Ammo For Self-Defense And Hunting (2022)

Updated 2/09/2022

What 10mm ammo has you covered for self defense and hunting?

The best 10mm ammo for protection and hunting:

Languishing in semi-obscurity for a good quarter century, the 10mm has earned new-won respect in recent years. There’s plenty of reasons for Col. Jeff Cooper's darling wandering the wilderness all those years. The first pistol chambered for the powerful cartridge – the notorious Bren Ten – didn’t exactly pirouette onto the stage. And similar to the .44 Magnum, average shooters liked the concept of the snappy cartridge on paper better than when the squeezed the trigger.

As to its rise, who’s to say exactly. The safe wager, it’s the 10mm’s versatility that has captured ever-fickle shooters’ imaginations. It shoots longer, hits harder and has potentially more applications than any other semi-automatic pistol cartridge today. If you’re willing to spend the time to master the 10mm’s stout, yet manageable recoil you have at your disposal an unparalleled self-defense cartridge and top-notch medium- to large-game option. Heck, once you get to know it, the big ten is also plenty of fun at the range.

Whatever is truly at the root of the 10mm’s resurgence, the marketplace has responded. While gunmakers have been quick to jump on the bandwagon in recent years, they pale in comparison to ammo manufacturers. There is a veritable sea of new 10mm ammo that has hit the shelves over the past decade or so, making for some choppy waters when trying to find the best of the best. With a nod to expediency, we’re here to clear some of the fog and look at what’s top when it comes to feeding your .40-caliber beast.

10mm Ammo

Multitalented, the 10mm is generally preferred for two primary purposes: self-defense and hunting. There is crossover between 10mm ammo and these applications. But outside the realm of revolvers, perhaps no other caliber has more specialized rounds for these purposes.

This means, not every self-defense round cuts muster on the hunt and not every hunting round is appropriate for personal protection. With that in mind, the best 10mm ammo list has been broken down to these purposes (plus a range fodder suggestion) and have slightly different criteria in their selection. For self-defense ammo the benchmarks considered were, met FBI penetration protocol, substantial bullet expansion, manageable recoil with respect to bullet weight and reliable feeding. On the other hand, hunting bullets were measured on maximum penetration, bullet robustness and potential maximum range. Not that you want to push a handgun shot in the field, but it’s peace of mind if the first shot fails to do the job and you need to follow up.

Get An Edge On 10mm Ammo:

So, without further ado, here are some of the best 10mm ammo options out there for self-defense and hunting. Let us know in the comments if we're on target or missed the mark wildly.

10mm Ammo For Defense

Hornady 175-grain Critical Duty

A showstopper defensive round, this member of Hornady’s heralded Critical Duty family does the job and more. The 175-grain round is tailored for full-sized handguns and is loaded to provide excellent ballistics and penetration. To the latter, it fully meets not only the FBI’s penetration standards, but also the agency’s barriers tests, giving you a powerful upper hand in almost any self-defense situation. Over-engineering, a hallmark of Hornady, is to thank for the top-performing 10mm ammo’s performance. Thick jacketed and aided by a Flex Tip core, the FlexLock bullet is designed to expand only when it's supposed to — which isn’t in plywood or heavy clothing. Furthermore, a jacket-to-core band (Interlock band in Hornady terminology) ensures the bullet holds together and lead core retains mass as it expands. By the company’s statistics, the FlexLock bullet preserves 99-percent of its weight after expansion. A hard-hitter, Critical Duty is a manageable defensive 10mm ammo option, allowing for controlled follow-up shots if needed. Hornady is among the best bulletsmiths and ammo companies in the country and it shows through in a round you can bet your life on.
Bullet: 175 gr. FlexLock
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,160
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 523
Ballistic Coefficient: .160
Sectional Density: .156
MSRP: $34.99 box of 20

Speer 200-grain Gold Dot

In terms of defensive 10mm ammo, 200-grain options are few and far between – at least in the contemporary shooting world. Given this, the buzz Speer started at the 2018 SHOT Show with this behemoth addition to the iconic Gold Dot family is understandable. It’s a lot of jacketed lead to pitch, but it's not just its size that matters. The round's terminal performance is what makes it more than worthy of consideration. On bare ballistics gelatin, the hollow-point expanded nearly a full ¾ of an inch. No matter the situation that should prove more than enough persuasion to halt most attackers dead in their tracks. Packing plenty of punch, this Gold Dot isn’t loaded to the hilt. Speer lists its muzzle velocity at 1,100 fps out of a 5-inch barrel. That’s good enough to get the job done, and also make the snappy caliber manageable past the first shot for most shooters. But it also makes one wonder if the company has a 200-grain hot-rod model in the works.
Bullet: 200-grain Gold Dot HP
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,100
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 537
Ballistic Coefficient: .151
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $28.99 box of 20

SIG Sauer 180-grain V-Crown

Near blister hot and offering incredible expansion, SIG Sauer has produced one of the wickedest defensive 10mm ammo choices out there. While the round kicking out of the muzzle around 1,250 fps is right around what most 10 mm aficionados like to see, it’s what the V-Crown bullet does when it hits the target that turns heads. The projectile balloons like it's gone off its diet, expanding right around ¾ of an inch — more than ample to produce a devastating wound channel. SIG has done a wonderful job ensuring not only this, but all V-Crown options produce these results. Whereas many ammo makers are content skiving just the jackets of a defense round, SIG takes these through the hollow point’s lead core ensuring consistent and dynamite expansion round in and out. Nickel-plated cases are a nice addition to the round, not only for their deadly good looks, but also making chamber checks easier.
Bullet: 180-grain V-Crown JHP
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,250
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 624
Ballistic Coefficient: N/A
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $35.95 box of 20

Federal 180-grain Hydra Shok

Truthfully, this round doesn’t bring much more to the table than its .40 S&W cousin, which alright. Not every defensive 10mm ammo option needs blockbuster velocities — particularly if over-pentation is a concern. At a hair above 1,000 fps at the muzzle, the Hydra Shok eliminates this worry while still providing the life-saving performance on which the brand has built its renown. Consistent as the unforgiving minute, the ammunition reliably produces around 15-inches of penetration in bare ballistics gelatin — right in line with FBI penetration specs. Additionally, the hollow point expands respectably, aided by a notched jacket and a center post ensuring it opens even through heavy clothing. Best of all, the 180-grain Hydra Shok is a simple round to master, particularly out of full-sized options. It’s pleasant to shoot and facilitate fast follow-up shots. What more could you ask for?
Bullet: 180-grain Hydra Shok
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,030
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 424
Ballistic Coefficient: 0.17
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $40.99 box of 20

10mm Ammo For Hunting

Federal 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP

Designed to smash through tough hide and bone, Federal’s specialty 10mm hunting ammo is a proven game getter. Topped with a bullet from the renowned Trophy Bonded line, the jacketed soft point won’t go to pieces in medium- and large-sized game — an absolute must in a handgun hunting bullet. The core is bonded to the jacket, ensuring it retains its mass as it bores through flesh and bone, producing a devastating wound channel. It’s tough enough, too, to give you the peace of mind that if you happen to have to smash through something such as a deer’s scapula you’ve got the projectile to do it. At the same tick, an excessive meplat (nose) guarantees the bullet’s exceptional expansion. Furthermore, the round is plenty hot for hunting. Federal Premium pegs it at 1,275 fps and plenty of outside testing backs up the assertion. In addition to accuracy, the velocity delivers the penetration required to reach the vitals for a quick and ethical kill. Quite simply, the 180-grain Trophy Bonded round is among the best available for the 10mm.
Bullet: 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,275
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 650
Ballistic Coefficient: 0.134
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $42.99

Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 220 grain

Near the heaviest bullet the 10mm can digest, Buffalo Bore has cooked up the answer if penetration is the question. Launching a hard-cast flat nosed bullet, the 220-grain round is designed to handle the largest and toughest critters you’d logically take with a 10mm. A good bet for hunting larger cervidaes or as an insurance policy when traversing bear country. Engineered for minimal expansion, the bullet nonetheless punches a devastating hole in game and makes child’s play of hide and bone. And with 3-feet of potential penetration at hand, a well-placed shot will destroy all vitals in the bullet’s path. Hot, Buffalo Bore loads this 10mm ammo to the hilt, with an average muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps. At that speed, it delivers a whopping 651 ft-lbs. of energy to a target at 25 yards. If that’s not enough to get you in the ballpark of what you’re hunting, you probably shouldn’t aim to bag it with a semi-auto pistol.
Bullet: 220-grain Hard Cast plain based LFN
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,200
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 703
Ballistic Coefficient: .219
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $38.18 box of 20

Hornady 180-grain XTP

Honestly, this is twofer 10mm Ammo. The 180-grain Hornady round is just the ticket for self-defense or hunting small to medium game, offering power, penetration and excellent expansion in either case. Another factor that should appeal to both camps, accuracy. Surprising for a hollow point, the XTP bullet is among the most popular among target and competitive shooters. The round offers excellent penetration, with the jacket rolled over the core to ensure it defeats clothing, hide and bones. Then, it expands violently — as much as 60-percent its original diameter — aided by skives in the jacket. This minute feature ensures the bullet mushrooms, even at lower velocities and in a very uniform consistent manner. Not that you have to worry about low velocity with this 180-grain round, on average it leaves the muzzle at 1,200 fps. All in all, the XTP round punches well above its weight and is easily the jack-of-all-trades on this list.
Bullet: 180-grain XTP
Ballistic Coefficient: .164
Sectional Density: .161
Muzzle Velocity: 1,275
Muzzle Energy: 650
MSRP: $35.99 box of 20

Underwood Ammo 150-grain Xtreme Hunter

Don’t let its lightweight fool you, Underwood’s 10mm hunting round is pure dynamite. Solid copper, the 150-grain round obviously offers incredible penetration potential. Plain and simple, it won’t break up even against bone — in fact, it will crack right through it. But it perhaps has an advantage over some the hard cast options previously mentioned – wound channel. Milled fluting gives the Xtreme Hunter the unique property of creating a permanent wound cavity greater than many bullets designed to expand. Penetration and large wound cavity — that’s a potent combination. Being a lighter round, it’s also much easier to shoot, despite leaving the barrel at a screaming clip — 1,425 fps by Underwood’s numbers. At this velocity, its energy is akin to projectiles more than 30-grains its weight at the muzzle. At first, it may not look it, but the Xtreme Hunter is more than capable medium to large game 10mm ammo.
Bullet: 150-grain Lehigh Defense Xtreme Hunter
Muzzle Velocity: 1,425
Muzzle Energy: 676
Ballistic Coefficient: N/A
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $41.99 box of 20

10mm Ammo For Training

Remington 180-grain UMC FMJ

Plain decent plinking, practice and range ammo. Decent velocity, inexpensive, good general weight and reliable. What more do you need from target ammo, 10mm or otherwise?
Bullet: 180-grain FMJ
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,150
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 529
Ballistic Coefficient: N/A
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $39.99 box of 50

CCI Blazer Brass 180-grain FMJ

10mm Auto CCI
CCI brass may not be the most consistently-loaded ammo out there, but in the current ammo market this stuff is at least available and relatively cheap. If your only goal is to shoot as much 10mm ammo for the least amount of money possible, CCI Blazer may be the way to go.
Bullet: 180-grain FMJ
Muzzle Velocity (fps): 1,200
Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs): 575
Ballistic Coefficient: N/A
Sectional Density: N/A
MSRP: $28.49 box of 50

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  1. Some of the loads are sub par for that round. No better than a 40 S&W. Thing is, did they actually test them? Check out Lucky Gunner Labs I guess.

  2. You came close with 10mm self-defense choices, but missed the mark. I’ll explain why. I shoot 10mm and .357Sig…. almost always light Noslers (135gr in 10mm, 115gr in .357 Sig) from Underwood Ammo (or the same weight projectiles in Sierra from Double Tap Ammo). These 10mm’s travel at 1600fps with 767fp of muzzle energy, and the .357 Sig’s travel at 1600fps at 614fp’s muzzel energy.

    Why light rounds (your choices are very heavy)? They carry more energy! Shooters tend to lock in on shot placement and wound channel specs in defensive shooting. Most completely ignore the second consideration……hydro-static or hydraulic shock. If you compress the blood vessels in an area enough, the blood has to go somewhere, so the blood ruptures vessels at the weakest points. A hollow-point that hits with over 500fp creates enough hydro-static compression in the vascular system (regardless of the placement) to cause capillaries in the brain (also lungs and aneurysms) to burst.

    People shoot poorly under stress. I’ve seen enough well-practiced shooters fail in a simulator to validate this (at least for me). I was pretty bad at first, too. So, the point is, a shooter in a high stress defensive situation may not hit well, so any hit needs to count. If a round carries enough energy into the hit area (say, the lower side torso for example) the vascular system will experience massive compression leading to burst blood vessels in the brain. Even if the attacker is only disoriented and not completely down, you have an immediate advantage.

    Light projectiles rarely over-penetrate. That would be a concern of mine with the 180 grain projectiles. Yet, the 135gr Noslers still have good penetration. Wound channel, coupled with adequate hydrostatic shock are my choice for defense. Please let me know if I’VE missed the mark. Cheers.

    • Dave, i agree with you! I’m of the mantra that speed kills. Plus, I love a really flat shooting round! This has led me to go from 165 gr .30-06 to 150 gr. Even more, my whitetail rifle is now a 6mm creedmoor tossing only 103 grain eld-x bullets, harvesting 2 deer this year, one going 40 yds, the other succumbing to shock instantly never taking a step. I will say, for hunting, I have not gotten the readily apparent blood trails that I normally got with the .30-06, but that is partly due to me switching from low heart shots to upper shoulder brachial plexus shots. All that said, I’m leaning toward the Underwood 155 grain as a deer and defense round in 10mm. In beard country, not sure.


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