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Ammo Ballistics

Best New Personal Defense Handgun Ammo for 2014

by James Tarr   |  July 25th, 2014 30

With all of the advancements in modern defensive ammunition, it’s easy to forget that we’re talking about something very simple: throwing a piece of metal hard enough and fast enough to make bad guys reconsider their choices in life. Private citizens require the same performance from their ammo as does law enforcement — they need it to stop the threat.

Every year, manufacturers introduce new types of defensive ammo, and this year the introductions are many. We rounded up the best new personal defense ammunition for 2014 to keep your sidearms loaded with the latest and greatest.



  • MrApple

    I’ll stick with Speer Gold Dots and Federal HSTs.

    • Dual Bag


      • MrApple

        I personally like the Federal HSTs the best but Speer Gold Dots is a mighty close second choice. You’re well armed with either.

  • SteveP

    I can’t believe you included that RIP nonsense gimmick ammo in this.
    Jeez, that’s pathetic.

    • Northman56

      You may be correct. But, exactly how do you know this? Do you have data or just a “loud” opinion?

    • JPKirkpatrick

      Arguably, the RIP ammo is very expensive, but I did put 100 rounds ($100) of the ammo through some testing on my personal range. If I am going to carry the ammo for my self defense use, I want to know what it will do. I shot the .380 ammo into concrete flat blocks (2.¼” thick) with homemade ballistic gel in gallon jugs behind it. the whole bullet exited the block and blew up (full petal expansion) in the gel. going 4½” into the gel. (my gel is from an online recipe that is a little stiffer gel).
      I compared it to Hornady’s XTP and Remington’s Gold Dots. Gold Dots went into the second jug with 100% expansion total gel penetration was 10″; the XTP rounds went into the second jug with 9¼” penetration and 80-90% expansion.

      The RIP ammo is designed to provide 7 knife-like barbs that will cut veins, arteries and muscles, with a small .32 caliber core projectile.

      So SteveP, say what you want, but unless you have tried and tested it, you are just blowing smoke and hyperbole. Fords are better than Chevies, and Dodges are better than Fords, no fact just fiction!

      • SteveP

        I don’t have to shoot it myself to know that it’s a hyped up gimmick. I’ve watched the videos and read the articles of other people who have shot it.
        I’ve also studied terminal ballistics and have a very good understanding of how bullets perform work. You obviously don’t.

        • JPKirkpatrick

          SteveP, nothing, NOTHING is better than hands on testing. You can read about things, you can watch videos but that does NOTHING but fool yourself into believing that you can do it. You can’t be an airline pilot by watching videos and reading books. YOU HAVE TO HAVE HANDS ON TRAINING. There is an old saying that describes idiots like you; “None are so blind as those who refuse to see” Your last statement is so full of holes that the bullshit is running out. No sense in trying to educate you, YOU ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING, YOU READ THE BOOK AND WATCHED THE VIDEO.
          And by the way, I have over 45 years of ballistics training for the military and civilian Law Enforcement, and that was from Hands on Training, not videos… Have to thank you SteveP, I have not laughed so hard in a long time… Videos… HAHAHAHA!

          Again: So SteveP, say what you want, but unless you have tried and tested it, you are just blowing smoke and hyperbole.

          • Steven Raye

            ballistic gelatin is not a god media for testing ammo…you want to find out how it really does in actual shooting, shoot a live pig at seven yards each time with different loads—pig of course pig has to be the same weight and about the same fat percentage (pigs like humans have different fat thickness) each time then check the cavitation, penetration and expansion. either that or find some perp to engage…now both of you shut up cause yahoos and wanna be gunslingers like you throw mud in people’s eyes.

          • Richard McRee

            Then you could grill the pigs!!!

          • SteveP

            There is a reason that bullets that stay in one piece continue to endure while gimmicks and fads come and go. (Glasers anyone?)
            Here’s a challenge for you Mr Hot-Shot Sooper Ballistician, Scale it up to a cartridge suitable for oh… a grizzly bear. Now go shoot one. You’ll learn very quickly why bullets that stay in one piece are required for dangerous animals.
            Make sure your life insurance is paid up first.
            You’re not as smart as you want everyone to believe.

          • Timothybean

            Be nice

          • name

            Calm down bud everything will be okay. We all know that you know everything.

          • SteveP

            Far from it. But I do know enough about terminal ballistics to recognize nonsense and ignorance when I see it, and to learn from the work of others.

      • Mitch Canine

        I have seen where chance of weapon malfunction is higher with RIp. I would never take a risk with ammo that has a higher chance of jamming than a proven round. Federal Hollow points also penitrate further. Much cheaper for hollow points. My conclusion, spend less on more reliable ammo.

  • Scott Ritchie

    Say you shoot someone in self defense using the RIP round, and the District Attorney thinks there is a question about whether your actions were reasonable and charges you with a crime. The DA will likely put up a screen in the courtroom and show the jury a picture of the RIP round as well as a picture of the round after it was dug out of the ballistic gelatin. Then imagine the effect on the various soccer moms, grannies, government workers, and gay guys who will likely be on the jury, when he tries to convince them that you bought these rounds knowing what they can do, and loaded them in your gun that you were just chomping at the bit to use on someone like the guy that you shot.

    • Ofc Ben

      Best thing to do is find out what your local PD carries, and use it. “If it’s good enough for the police, it’s good enough for me.”


      • michael j Pocock

        Excellent decision, Officer Ben! Always best for court!

  • Anonymous

    In order, from the top:

    Hornady Critical Duty is fair to unimpressive in most of the calibers I’ve seen tested. It is a fairly good performer from full-size service pistols, but underexpands badly and overpenetrates when fired from compact or subcompact CCW pistols.

    Is “Black Belt” a relabeled Golden Saber Bonded? If so it’s been around for years and years. I can find very few tests of it online; the 9mm 124gr +P version looks like a decent performer in the tests I’ve seen online. I can find no tests of any other bullet weight or any other caliber anywhere online.

    RIP is a gimmick round that’s very unimpressive in ballistic gelatin. The concept might have more merit if the tiny metal splinters it is designed to shed had three or four times the mass that they do, and might actually penetrate more than a few inches of soft tissue. As it is, in my opinion this concept is not yet ready for prime time. Past the 3″ to 4″ depth where the copper splinters stop, the wound track is not readily distinguished from that made by an FMJ projectile of the same caliber, which would have more mass and be more likely to break bone. A 12 gauge slug or centerfire rifle bullet using this concept might have great potential, however.

    Speaking of gimmick rounds, the “Civil Defense” is another. What do you get when you make an all-copper hollowpoint bullet and push it so fast that it disintegrates? Tiny copper fragments that lack the kinetic energy to break heavy bone, that’s what.

    The SIG-branded “V-Crown” ammunition has potential but the testing I’ve seen of it online indicates a need for redesign. It works quite well–if and only if the projectile passes through four layers of heavy cotton denim before entering the gelatin. In bare gelatin it overexpands almost to the point of turning inside out and penetration is reduced by nearly half. 13″ to 14″ of penetration of ballistic gelatin after four layers of denim is ideal. 7″ of penetration in bare gelatin is absolutely unacceptable.

    Winchester’s “Train & Defend” is a rebranded PDX1. There’s nothing “new” here but the box. It’s a fairly decent performer in most calibers I’ve seen tested but it’s far from new.

    On the Nosler offerings I will withhold judgment until I see someone, somewhere, anywhere, actually test them in ballistic gelatin and tell us what kind of performance we can expect. The .40 must be a pretty stout load, if they’re using a 200 grain bullet at that velocity and not a 180. The 9mm version also looks to be screaming hot, well into European “SMG ammo” territory. They could be very good performers, but I personally would prefer to see less CGI and fewer marketing buzzwords and more blocks of calibrated ballistic gelatin on Nosler’s webpage.

    • Jesse Mathewson

      Speer gold dot is my choice all day every day- with critical defense coming in second-

  • Craig K

    Anyone have any opinions or facts about the DRT rounds. I have .45 acp 150 grains at 1100fps.

  • ghost

    I feel unworthy and humbled by these experts. I only have a .380 I use Federal Hydra-Shok 90 gr. JHP in. My other side arm is a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buck. It don’t care what your pistol/revolver uses.

  • JHN

    This website doesn’t work on Safari or Chrome. The pop-out boxes don’t show

  • commonwealth109

    Yes, the Black Belt is just a Golden Saber bullet with the addition of a crimp to keep the jacket & core together under more circumstances. The case & powder & terminal ballistics are the same too. 99% of the time it will have identical performance – which is good. You are correct, the 124grain 9mm +P is a very proven, effective round – probably the least expensive premium round too, as you can find it on sale if you look around enough.

  • pw

    HST im good with. and my number 1 ammo that I stay with is Lehigh defense pick your choice the best animal in the game

  • Just Cause

    2 to the chest 1 to the head we want you alive but we’ll take you dead. Just cause I like the way it sounds.

  • devildoc

    The only reason I will buy the RIP rounds is to use in my new concealed carry pistol. I currently use a Ruger P-90 which is a great weapon just a bit bulky. Don’t get me wrong, nothing says f*ck off like a HP 45 round, but it’s much easier and comfortable to carry something smaller. I am buying a Ruger LCP 380 and with the RIP rounds, I feel confident that I could defend myself.

    • Joe

      I went with the LC 380. I really like this for carry. I have a m&p 45, but a bit big for summer carry.

      • devildoc

        I also bought a Sneaky Pete holster, so my setup is perfect for concealed carry imho

  • Larry Strickland

    This is why I hate comments and discussion; most everyone thinks they are the Grand PooPa of being a combat expert!!! Know one can respect the ideas, thoughts and comments in general of others without name calling and causing a shit storm!!! I personally don’t want to be shot with any chunk of lead, know matter what caliber or name brand!!!

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