Saturday, September 24, 2011

What defensive ammo are YOU carrying?

A few years back when I worked in law enforcement, our issued duty ammo was Federal Hydra-Shok, first in .357 Magnum and later in .45ACP when we switched over to semi-automatics.  It was a good, reliable round... and pretty standard at the time for LEOs.  We would qualify with our firearms every six months, so we'd shoot our six month old Hydra-Shoks, then finish qualifying with FMJs.  They would issue more Hydra-Shoks until our next qualification or until we had to use them in the line of duty.  Until just recently, the gals and I also carried Federal Hydra-Shoks in all our handguns we use for personal defense.

Well, times and technology have since changed and about two years ago I started looking at all the new defensive cartridges on the market, reading dozens of magazine articles, and probably hundreds of internet reviews.   We bought and tried various offerings from Hornady, Federal, Winchester, Corbon, Remington, and a couple of others which over time was not exactly an inexpensive undertaking.  I think bonded bullet construction has proven it's worth and we decided on the Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 for our defensive handgun use.

Now I have some friends that have some pretty strong opinions on carry ammo, but it always amazes me that so many folks I run into are carrying ammunition that they have never actually tried very much or even at all in their handgun.  Folks practice with cheap FMJs, then load their expensive defensive rounds... often without checking feeding, reliability, or point of impact on the target in relation to point of aim, which is a concern with many fixed-sight defensive handguns.

We've put at least 100 rounds of PDX through every gun we have that we're using it in with good results as far as feeding, reliability, and hitting what we're aiming at.  I even used 80 rounds of it as part of a Todd Green inspired 2,000 round torture test of a brand new Ruger SR9 (by the way, the SR9 functioned flawlessly with no cleaning or maintenance until round 3,619 when it had a stove-pipe).  The gals and I are using the PDX ammo in .380ACP, 9mm+P, .38 Special+P, and .45ACP.  We still shoot and replace our "carry" rounds every six months just to keep things fresh in the magazines, cylinders, and speed-loaders.

Now I realize that there are a lot of opinions, ballistic tests, articles, and videos on the various ammunition options for defensive carry, so with that in mind and out of curiosity... What defensive ammo are YOU carrying?


  1. Good points all. My carry gun is a G26. Before I retired from the PD I had a lot of very close and personal shooting experience with 9mm Winchester Ranger SXT. We had good real life performance with it so I stocked up. I'm open to new things though so I'm going to buy a couple of boxes of PDX and give it a try. Are there penetration amd expansion tests available for it?

  2. @ Six: I've found a number of web sites that were helpful, plus YouTube has great reviews comparing expansion of it and others through four layers of denim into water and through glass, etc. into ballistic gelatin...


    I did some of my own water jug/through old jeans tests and maybe a couple of tests on a hog carcass that was being butchered (oops, now PETA is on high-alert - I said maybe - I admit to nothing)... only disappointment was the .380ACP... but I attribute that to the fact that it is a .380ACP... a small and slow projectile... We have both a Ket-Tec 3AT and a Ruger LCP... the Ruger feeds anything, the Kel-Tec - not so much - but both like the Winchester PDX's... the .45ACP was completely reliable in the 1911s and we chose the 124gr+P over the 147gr for the 9mm...

    Choosing defensive ammunition is tough as the ultimate testing can't be conducted in a lab or on the range... and only time will tell...

    I think the one common item I've seen in all testing of the PDX1 ammo is that there doesn't seem to be any jacket and core separation and it has fairly uniform expansion results most of the time... I can't say that for the Hydra-Shoks...

    But, this in no way means other manufacturer's rounds aren't good too, this is just what we chose...

    Dann in Ohio

  3. I use what has proven itself in police shootings on real people. I don't care what ammo does in gelatin, dux seal or water jugs.

  4. I applaud the fact that you say to run the defensive ammo to ensure it will run reliably. I really do not think there is an appreciable difference between the well established manufacturers. I have shot them all. Not worried so much about the gel tests, "hydroshock", etc.

    I chose Hornady simply because I reload from a Hornady press, loaded Hornady bullets in it, etc. Keeps things simple for me!

    I am very pragmatic!

  5. Thanks Dann. I'll check those sources out.

  6. I'm back. I'm kinda the budget guy around here I guess. Like I posted on the other article,I just can't bring myself to pay so much money on those super-expensive Hornady critical defense,Cor Bon,Remington Golden Sabres,Winchester PDX1's for a box of 20. I also run at least a box of whatever loads I'm going to be using for carry loads through each and every pistol and magazine to insure functionality. You don't want to find out your defense ammo doesn't funtion properly at the wrong time. When I buy ammo I'd rather pay $20-$25 for a box of 50,even if it is "old" technology. That "old" technology has been killing perps well enough before all the new "super techno" rounds came along and we all know it's about 'shot placement' not necessarily size (caliber) or how many rounds. So her goes my lineup:

    .380 ACP- 95 gr. Fiocchi Extrema w/Hornady XTP JHP bullet

    9mm - Short barreled pistols (4" to 4.5") get Fiocchi 124 gr. Extrema w/Hornady EXP JHP bullet
    Long barreled pistols (5" to 5.25") get Winchester 147 gr. Personal Protection JHP.

    .40 S&W - 180 gr. Winchester White Box for Personal Protection JHP.

    Simple but effective. I try to stick to whatever is "normally" in stock type ammo. I few months back I did get a special buy on some Federal HST 180 gr. bonded JHP at Cabela's for $19.99/box so I picked up 4 boxes.