Gunfights aren’t won just because somebody can clear leather faster or because the sun gets in the bad guy’s eyes. Nor are they won simply with tactics. There is another factor that may be the most important: ammunition. Experienced handgunners and personal protection experts stress that one should never skimp on his or her self-defense ammunition choices when their lives may depend upon a bullet’s ability to stop an attacker.
Perhaps the newest entry in this technology race is Nosler, now producing a line of ammunition called Nosler Defense. The inaugural entries include two loads apiece in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The 9mm selections are both loaded to +P levels, one with a 124-grain Bonded Tipped projectile and the other with a Bonded jacketed hollowpoint. The .40 S&W loads both feature 200-grainers, also in the Bonded Tipped and Bonded JHP, and in .45 ACP, both loads are also +P rated and the bullets weigh 230 grains.
Another new entry in the defensive ammunition community is TAC-XPD Defense ammunition from Barnes, another renowned bullet maker now expanding into the ammunition market. Every load in the series is topped with the Barnes TAC-XP bullet, and there are offerings in .380 ACP with an 80-grain pill, a 9mm pushing a 115-grain bullet loaded to +P velocity, a .40 S&W featuring a 140-grainer and a .45 ACP, also loaded to the +P level with a 185-grain bullet.
Winchester’s PDX1 Defender selection of handgun ammunition delivers the goods in calibers ranging from .380 ACP to .45 Colt, and there are selections in .357 SIG and .357 Magnum. In addition, Winchester’s PDX1 family includes a couple of .410-bore loads for handguns in the Taurus Judge and Smith & Wesson Governor families. There’s a 2 ½-inch round with a trio of copper-plated “Defense Discs” and a dozen copper-plated BBs. At close range, this is a nasty combination, but even more so is the 3-inch round that has four of those discs and 16 plated BB-sized shot.
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Remington came up with a nifty combo package this year for these popular .410 revolvers. It’s the “Ultimate Defense Combo Pack,” and it holds 10 .45 Colt cartridges and 10 2 ½-inch .410 shotshells. Available in either a clam pack or box. The .45 Colt cartridges are loaded with Remington’s superb Golden Saber 230-grain hollowpoints and the .410 shells hold four 000 buckshot pellets. I’ve used Golden Saber ammunition in .45 ACP and .40 S&W over the years in various tests and for the street, and it’s also available in .380 ACP, 9mm, .357 Magnum and .38 Special +P.
Practice makes perfect, or at least pretty good, and Federal has a combo pack as well featuring 100 rounds of practice ammunition loaded with FMJ bullets and 20 rounds of Premium Personal Defense rounds topped by federal Hydra-Shoks. The bullets in all calibers—9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP—are all the same weight.
A fourth combo pack holds 50 rounds of .45 Colt loaded with 225-grain jacketed soft-points and 20 rounds of 2 ½-inch .410 shells loaded with four 000 buckshot pellets. For home defense, Federal has a round called the Guard Dog, and it’s got a bite. The bullet can fool you because it looks like an FMJ, but it’s skived on the inside of the jacket and it has a polymer front end in the core so when it hits, the jacket opens up on the sides and the bullet actually expands. Guard Dog loads are available in .45 ACP (165 grains), .40 S&W (135 grains) and 9mm (105 grains).
I’d be remiss without mentioning the line of Gold Dot ammunition from Speer. Available in several calibers for both revolvers and semi-autos, they’re loaded with Gold Dot bullets, which have a good track record for expansion and stopping power. They are the choice of various law enforcement agencies and for good reason: They work. The alloy core is bonded to the jacket, which is designed to expand along “memory lines” that start at the mouth of the hollowpoint cavity where the lead is exposed between sections of the jacket.
CorBon has developed ammunition that really cooks, including the .25 NAA and .32 NAA that add a sizzle to the .25- and .32-caliber bullets. The CorBon Self-Defense JHP family has loads ranging from .25 NAA to .357 Magnum. Utilizing these lighter-weight hollowpoints, CorBon produces good velocities and delivers solid downrange energy.
Ditto for the CorBon DPX line of defense ammunition. Utilizing all-copper hollowpoints, these loads are simply awesome. CorBon reports that some bullets recovered from various testing media have expanded 150 to 200 percent of their original diameter while retaining 100 percent of their weight.
What got my attention with DPX is that CorBon loads this stuff for virtually every handgun caliber on the map, from .32 ACP all the way up to .500 S&W, with a variety of bullet weights. You’ll even find a .45 Auto Rim in there for anybody who defends his home with an old 1917 S&W or Colt double-action.
A few years ago, CorBon added the Glaser Safety Slug ammunition to its line. Glasers have become legendary for their concept and performance. These things are devastating, with a bullet design featuring a copper jacket filled with a compressed load of lead shot, either No. 6 or smaller No. 12, topped by a polymer tip that serves a couple of purposes.
It is round, to enable feeding in a semi-auto and to insure penetration, and it also pushes back into the projectile upon impact to open up the jacket and allow that lead shot to do its job,
No matter which ammunition one chooses, if it works, stick with it. Try different brands at the range to see what performs best in your personal defense pistol or revolver. Not all guns perform the same with a particular brand or type of ammunition, which is why there is more than one line from which to choose.
This article appeared in the April 8, 2013 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.