5 Tips on Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry

5 Tips on Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry
5 Tips on Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry
5 Tips on Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry
5 Tips on Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry

Let me begin by telling you a little about myself, a life long hunter, recreational shooter, and with 18 years of experience as a Law Enforcement Officer during which time I became a firearms instructor and DARE officer both positions I still hold.

Selecting ammunition for the concealed carry permit holder is relatively easy with today’s major ammunition manufactures offering wide varieties of defensive ammunition to pick from. Each manufacture offers some type of defensive ammunition. These rounds come with bullets ranging from frangible rounds to bonded and non-bonded jacketed hollow point bullets.

First a quick lesson on wound ballistics, there is no magic bullet. The only shots capable of immediately incapacitating an attacker are hits to the Central Nervous System. Shots that cause massive bleeding, hit large muscle masses, and bones will also incapacitate an attacker, but they will have a period of time they may be mobile during this time is possible they could be able of continuing to attack their victim, possibly even inflicting life threatening wounds.

What I recommend to all my students is simple:

  1. Shoot the largest caliber you can accurately shoot. The reason for this is if your bullet fails to expand it will never get smaller than it started. Meaning a 9mm will never get smaller but if it expands it will increase its effectiveness, the same can be said for most defensive rounds such as .38spl, .357Mag, .40S&W, 10mm, and .45ACP.
  2. Use a medium to heavy weight jacketed hollow point in your caliber. Bonded bullets are better performers than non-bonded ammunition. This is easily determined by the information provided by the manufacture.
  3. Check to see if the manufacturer you have selected has put their rounds through the FBI test protocols. Most manufactures make this information available to potential customers so they can see how their rounds have preformed in these tests. The rule of thumb is for the bullet to reach a minimum of 12 inches of penetration of ballistic gelatin.
  4. Is check to see if the manufactures round you’re selecting is commonly available in your area. It is recommended to CCW holders to replace their carry ammunition once a year. By doing this as a CCW holder you are giving your self an opportunity to practice with your carry ammo once at least once a year, while maintaining quality ammo to carry in your handgun.
  5. Test your selected ammunition in your handgun to see if it cycles and feeds properly. Generally most handguns should not have a problem in this area; however there are all ways exceptions where certain handguns don’t like one brand of ammo or bullet design.

In closing there is no magic bullet, despite what some people would like to have others believe. And only hits count, all the misses in the world will not stop an assailant.

No Code Needed
J P Enterprises - Ar-15 Reduced Power Spring Kit

J P Enterprises – Ar-15 Reduced Power Spring Kit

Reduced-power springs provide a 3.5 pound trigger pull when used with J.P. triggers, and a pull of 4.5 to 5 pounds when used with standard trigger components.

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Smith & Wesson M&p Shield 9mm

Smith & Wesson M&p Shield 9mm

Smith & Wesson’s new M&P SHIELD™ is a slim, concealable, lightweight, striker-fired polymer pistol.  Available in 9mm, the new M&P SHIELD features a slim design combined with the proven and trusted features found in the M&P Pistol Series. From the pistol’s easily concealed one-inch profile to its optimized 18-degree grip angle, the M&P SHIELD offers professional-grade features that provide consumers with simple operation and reliable performance.

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Matt Schlueter is a retired Deputy Sheriff from South Dakota with over 19 years of combined experience in corrections and law enforcement, and held the position of Firearms Instructor and DARE officer with the Sheriffs Office he worked at till his retirement. He is also a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and owner/chief instructor of Schlueter Firearms Instruction. Matt’s goal is to provide the best information possible for those who want to further their knowledge and skills in shooting handguns. Matt’s goals also include providing the best training courses possible for students who attended courses he is offering. For those wishing to contact him please visit his website at www.learntwoshoot.com, or www.zwarriortraining.com or you can join him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SchlueterFirearmsInstruction.
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I agree.  The more sectional density (width) your bullet has the better.  I don’t rely too much on bullet speed for short distance defensive loads.   Give me a fat slower moving bullet any day for close up shooting to save your life.    I really liked your point about practicing with your carry ammo and recycling the actual rounds you carry with some regularity.

Too many people try to save money by shooting with cheaper or less powerful loads and then “hoping” their carry ammo serves them well if the red flag goes up.   Practice ammo is fine but always include some of your actual carry ammo as well each time you shoot and definitely don’t keep the same carry rounds in the gun all year long.   Another great article.   Thanks!

William D Tipton

 Good reason to get into reloading.
A box of 50 rounds of 357 ammo costs me less than $6 and I get what I want instead of what  is on the rack.
At that price I can make all the range ammo I want and actually afford to go practice some.


can you explain bonded vs non-bonded?


A typical jacketed bullet is essentially a copper alloy cup filled with lead which can seperate on impact, depending on the design. When the jacket is shed in the target, it can reduce the bullet’s effectiveness. When the core and jacket are bonded, they do not generally come apart. If the package does not say “bonded”, they’re almost certainly not.  Most major manufacturer’s rounds which are marketed as “premium” or “defensive” use in twenty round boxes will perform well, bonded or not. Any major manufacturer’s jacketed hollow points will almost certainly out perform lead round nose or full jacket “practice” rounds and shot placement is always the critical factor.

Matt Schlueter

 Bonded vs Non Bonded

Non Bonded bullets are a swagged lead core pressed into a copper jacket, in some cases the copper jacket will have some type of crimp or internal locking ring to hold the two together on impact. There is a chance they will separate on impact which reduces the effectiveness of the projectile.

Bonded bullets are electronically bonded fusing the core and jacket together, which reduces the chance they will separate on impact.

Most major manufacture’s offer both bullets personally my choice of defensive ammo is Speer Gold Dot JHP’s these are a bonded bullet which are offered in many different defensive calibers and weights so it is very likely they will have a loading for your handgun.

I can’t stress enough it is important to test your chosen defensive ammo through your weapon to make sure it is cycling properly. Also by firing your defensive ammo you will become familiar with its point of impact. There is a possibility your practice ammo may have a different point of impact.

Practice ammo that I use is made by Speer in the same bullet weight, the reason is by using the same bullet weight it will recoil similarly to my defensive ammo, and the point of impact should be close to the same point of impact as my defensive ammo.


I use the Speer Gold Dot JHP’s in my S&W Bodyguard and all my research tells me they are fantastic.   You were 100% on target with that recommendation!


Interesting article.  I’m a new(ish) gun owner, and the main reason I purchased a serious firearm (i.e., something bigger than my grandaddy’s .22 Ruger Mark I) is for protection.  I’ve been going through a lot of FMJ rounds, but I have a special magazine filled with Hornady Critical Defense rounds for the uninvited 2am “houseguest.”  One thing I noticed about this ammo when I’m cycling the rounds out of the mag to allow for the spring to rest is that the plastic/rubber tips, which are supposed to be conducive for penetration through heavier clothing, seem to drag on the front interior surface of the mag.  I’m not 100% confident that rounds 2, 3, and beyond would actually cycle without an issue.  I suppose it’s time to put that theory to the test, even though the defense rounds are agonizingly expensive (better to spend a little bit more to be able to have absolute confidence in my ammo for when I need it most).

Dan Ess

I’ve shot Hornady FTX rounds in many guns, without issue. From the Ruger LCP to the S&W 460V. Kimber Ultra & Pro; S&W M&P’s 9, 40, 45; Kahr K9 & MK40; CZ 75B, Springfield EMP 40 & TRP45, Browning BDA380, Sig P232; never an issue.


Thanks, Dan.  That’s an extensive list and makes me feel a bit better, though I’ll still probably test for malfunctions with the box of FTXs I currently have.  On a similar note, do you have an opinion on hydroshocks or regular hollows versus FTXs?


Hi Stan!  I think Dan demonstrated a good point in that any given type of ammo can function & cycle well in a variety of firearms and he’s right that Hornady is an excellent brand.   I think you are also right in conducting further testing on your particular weapon because if it doesn’t function reliably in yours it absolutely should not be relied on.

May I suggest you try a couple of different magazines &/or perhaps polish the feed ramp a bit.   It could be just a magazine issue as they can be finicky or a slight bur on the feed ramp that is the gremlin.


Hi Cobrawing.  Thanks for the response.  Do burs on the feed ramp eventually wear off (or should I brush the crap out of it when cleaning), and is it worth looking into stronger mag springs?

Dan Ess

If the feed ramp has a burr, I would see that it is removed; before it causes a serious malfunction. That malfunction may cost a life. A Dremel or similar device can work wonders if you are talented; if not, go to a reputable Gunsmith. If it’s a new gun and under warranty, contact the Manufacturer. It is even possible that your point of purchase may have a Gunsmith and might fix it for free. Personally, I like the warranty route as a first choice.


Dan told you right again.   You have to be extremely careful in polishing a feed ramp because just a tad too much can destroy it.  If there’s a burr there you should be able to feel it and very gently smooth it out.   I wouldn’t do any more than that.  A gunsmith needs to go further if needed.   Sometimes the springs in a mag can go bad but if it’s a new gun this should not be the case.  However, sometimes the feed lips on the top are slightly bent.   Again, a good gunsmith can assess that issue.   Again, those are all warranty issues if new.

Dan Ess

Like most of us, I have not shot anyone; I cannot say out of experience if the FTX works as well as a Hydra-shok or DPX, etc.. but I do know they are more affordable. I read plenty on ballistics tests done by various sources, to feel confident in the ability to do what is needed if/when the time comes. I’ve loaded magazines with 2 or 3 types of ammo intermixed to see if it causes issues. Golden Sabers, FTX, Winchester HP’s, Speer, Fiocchi XTP’s and only one specific type has given me trouble. The Winchester STX HP, which is not available except for at Bass. I had cycling issues with that in two weapons I own. I have also had issues with 2 specific weapons with no particular ammo. One might be my fault (it’s probably a hold issue, wrist), the other appears to be a flaw in the gun itself (sadly the Sig P232).

Matt Schlueter


I think it is a good idea to test those rounds your planning on using. Hornady makes some good ammo I’m sure you will be pleased with the performance. However from the sounds of it you have some doubts on how they will preform through your handgun. I would strongly encourage you to get some range time in. Remember practice to make those center mass hits, because all the rounds in the world sent down range that miss are for not when it comes to stopping an attacker. “Only Hits Count”

Barry Gaddis

Great group and info. Matt, do you feel it is important to unload your mags periodically and let the spring “rest” so to speak? And if so, what would be a good schedule and duration for the spring to rest? I have been using the Hornady Critical Defense along with some of Sig’s 9mm 124gr and have never had an issue being used in an FNH 9c 9mm and a Springfield 9mm Duty. Great info, thanks group.


I had the same problem with my FX Titan (.45 ACP) when I used GI magazines. When I was finally able to get extra factory ATI magazines I had no further trouble. All I can suggest to you is to try magazines from different manufacturers.

73and still learning

I don’t understand most shooters most shooters today if something on there gun is somthing that dosn’t work on the gun or if a magazine dosn’t let the rounds enter the barrel smother or they come out of the mag ok but get hung up going into the chamber then they want to buy new equipment to fix it instead of looking for another easyer way to fix it.
This is my easer way,I was given about 250 rounds of wad cuter amo 45 for a 1911-45 I was haveing a problem with them going into the chamber into the barrel so I started looking at the barrel and chamber then looked at the rampand discovered that it was not as smoth as it could or shoud be so I looked around to see what I should use to polish some it, so started with some 400 grit wet-dry raped around my finger and polished it some just enough to get a start of a shine them got my motem tool and put a rounded polishing head on it used some white polishing rouge and polished it to a fine shine and never had any problem with it accepting any amo sence  and have done the mags from any gun that I own with that came the answer to most of my problems and now I put a lite polish on all working parts, slides and when two parts come together   


Stan, I would strongly advise that you run at least 100 rounds of your selected carry load through your weapon before betting you life on it functioning properly in it. The rule of thumb that I have always heard is to run at least 200 rounds (Mas Ayoob and others) to determine suitability for you weapon but I have found (at least so far – 22 years) that normally if you can run 100 rounds of your carry self defense load through it with no problems then you are good to go. Yes, it is expensive, but would you rather pay the price of discovering that it WON’T function in your weapon when you or your families life depends on it? Of all the things you have to do properly in order to use a firearm to defend yourself the first and foremost is to make sure the gun goes bang.  So, bite the bullet (pardon the pun), buy your ammo and get some peace of mind! Good Luck!


I have a Ruger LC9.  I have had trouble with FTX and Corbon DPX lodging between the bottom of the feed ramp and magazine when racking in a fresh loaded magazine.  Either the red tip (and other “cone” nosed bullet) or the edge of the of the wide cavity DPX catches on the feed ramp.  I have also had one round 2 FTF for the same reason.  This happens often enough to be wary of these ammunitions in this gun.  I have found that ammo with a more rounded nose, as the Golden Saber, Hydra-Shok, or Gold Dot feeds better. 

Usually a tap on the gun will force the rounds into the breech, but at 2 a. m. I would not want to count on it!  Please ditto if your are an LC9 owner having the same issue.

Dan Ess

Based on general ballistic energy tests on comparable barrel length; a 45Colt round will give me approximately 50 pounds more vs a 45ACP. However there are more choices available for the ACP in both handgun type and ammo choice. As often is said by many; if you do not carry the weapon because of the size or weight, or are not accurate; then it doesn’t matter how big the round is. Carry what is capable of being concealed and does not require constant adjusting to be comfortable with; in a caliber you can shoot accurately and comfortably. If that happens to be a 380, then so be it. Then find the most reliable and powerful shooting 380 ammo that works for you and your weapon.

Glenn Horlick

Unless I overlooked it, he did not mention the newer type of rounds like the Hornady FTX which is similar to the hollow point; however, they fill the hollow point with a plastic like material which ensures expansion through heavy clothing, etc.


I live in South Florida and have no reason or occasion to wear a jacket.  In order to conceal, I decided to purchase a small automatic, a Beretta 950, .25 cal.  Granted, it’s tiny, but I can put it in my side pocket and nobody is the wiser.  I did, however, purchase what is known as safety bullets. The slug contains dozens, if not hundreds, of tiny pellets.  The concept is that, once it goes in, it will not punch out to hit anyone behind the assailant.  My hope is that I never have to draw it at all, of course, and most times I expect an assailant will back off, even as small as the gun is.  Few people want anything poking into them at high speeds.

I soon discovered that the gun would shift around in my pocket and I would have a devil of a time geting it out with any speed, so I made a leather pocket holster for it.  The holster is designed such that the gun is always held upright and it has a hook to it that snags onto one’s pocket when drawing the gun and the holster stays in the pocket.  It also further conceals the fact that I’m carrying.

I’m posting a fuzzy photo of the gun in its pocket holster.

I have two .38 Smith and Wessons revolvers, one a snubnose, which I keep somewhat handy, one in the house and one in the truck, but I cannot carry them concealed.  I keep hollow-nosed shells in those.

Matt Schlueter


.25acp is a small round and using the glaser type safety slug may not reach the minimum of 12 inches of penetration to be effective. I would look at using Speer Gold Dot JHP for your .25 with a 35gr bullet or use a FMJ of a name brand company. Historically all pistol hollow points are poor performers due to rapid loss of velocity, there are other reasons for failures to expand as well. So it is important to remember only hits will count, which means practice is vital to maintaining your skills to be able to hit a target. Under stress most shooters will drop at least 10% in accuracy or more so by building that muscle memory up you are increasing your probability of being able to put hits on target.

I’m glad you are using a pocket holster, there are numerous brands off the shelf from DeSantis and Uncle Mikes to name a few for those of us not skilled enough to make our own holster. My pocket holster is a DeSantis Nemisis I use for my Glock 27. The Pocket holster regardless of make will enable the user to safely draw the weapon out of their pocket.


Depending on the situation, I either have a Kahr PM9 in a Meco holster in my pocket or a Kimber Ultra CDP II .45 in a Wilson IWB. (Or both) In any case the ammo will be one of Peter Pi’s Corbon offerings. I usually have Powerball in the Kimber and DPX in the Kahr. I always use factory ammo in carry guns and practice with handloads that are developed to approximate the ballistics of the factory stuff for practice.



Come on guys. If you’re going to carry, carry a service cal. Don’t want to make a bad guy mad. You want to STOP him!

Ole Olson

 Any gun you’re carrying is better than the one you left home behind when you need it!


Based on virtually every ballistics test I have seen, I would run to the nearest gun shop and trade the .25 for something else, except a .32.  A .22 is more effective.  If pocket carry is your only option, you might want to consider a 380 or better yet a small frame revolver.  The advantage a revolver has over a semi-auto is it can be fired from the pocket multiple times, as there is no slide to function for repeat shots.  I only pocket carry as a last resort.  The combination of pocket and holster leave to much room for hang ups and a slow draw, and is very difficult when sitting.  A very good article on stopping power is this;  You can google it to read.An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power   It blows holes in the theory “bigger is better”. 
Have you tried tuckable IWB or shirt out.  These are very easy and concealable forms of carry, and you are not restricted to mouse guns.


Although I’ve never shot a human being with it, Hornaday’s new Critcal Defense ammo in .45 ACP simply tears a wet wet phone book to shreds! I carry it in an ATC FX Titan 1911 (3.125″ bbl.). The trouble with hollow point ammo is that in cold weather the target’s clothing will jam into the bullet’s cavity thus preventing maximum expansion. Critcal Defense cartridges have a sharp pointed plastic tip in the cavity which prevents that from happening. As noted, I’ve never shot a human with this ammo but the expansion was perfect going through wet phone books.


William D Tipton

I carry a 357 magnum Ruger SP101.
I dont like 38’s or 38+p, but the wife cant handle full magnum rounds which are wrist breakers even in this heavy block of steel.
I kept toying around on the reloading press until we found a mild magnum load that she can handle but still has plenty of punch to it.

I cast my own bullets as well, so in the end I get what I WANT, not what someone else wants me to buy.

And since they are loaded well under max loads no one can pull that crap of ‘killer rounds’ on me.
IF I wanted a bigger bullet I’d just get a bigger gun.


The whole point of shooting an attacker IS to kill them. Never shoot to wound. The only way to be sure to stop them is to kill the attacker — if you fail then hopefully they will be disabled. The defense rounds sold commercially are meant to kill (thus the FBI ballistic testing for adequate lethality). The whole “killer round” fear is illogical. Lawyers can always find arguments to make somebody look bad, but it is an honest answer to say, “Yes, I tried my best to kill him so he wouldn’t kill me.”

William D Tipton

The POINT is to STOP the assault.
IF the attacker dies in the process that is on them.

Dan Ess

Discussions on the best ammo, required depth of penetration and weapon are very subjective and objective. Some believe a Non-LEO shouldn’t carry the same type of ammo as LEO would. The 45, 9, 380, 40, 357, 38, 44, etc.,  debate continues like time ticking away. Whatever you choose, be accurate, be safe and be conditioned as best as you can. Practice on a regular basis.My carry choice varies, from a Bond Snake Slayer IV with 3″ 410 #4 or 000 buckshot to a 8 round 4″ 45 with 185g +P FTX or equivalent, or an EMP 40 with similar rounds; on light clothing days it might be an LCP or Black Widow with 22 mag FTX. All of these are better than nothing.


I carry corbon dpx in the summer time because it has a hollow point that you can sip brandy out of and does a great job. when it get cold enough for a heavy coat then i carry a jhp with the hp filled, corbon hornaday and fed. all make good rounds for your weapon of choice.

Thor Odinson

Well, I hope most of you can shoot better than you can write and spell!  I have reviewed many reports and most stuff here would not make the grade in my department!

I got into an interesting debate a few days ago in a gunshop.  The clerk stated something like, “don’t use handloaded ammo for self defense or you will be sued”.  Being a reloader, as well as a 3 department LEO, I wondered if he just wanted to sell more stock or had any real information.

His argument was that if someone was killed with handloads–he would be sued by the family of the deceased.  I thought he had watched too many CIS and NCIS episodes on TV.  Real police work didn’t work that way.

 He insisted that a round loaded “hot” demonstrated an intent to kill.  No comment on the caliber such as .25 ACP, 10mm wimp (.40), .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt, .44 Mag or 00 buck. He argued that a  police lab could ID factory vs handloads. Try taking a bag of some powder into a reloading shop sometime to see if they can even identify it.
Personally, if I have to shoot then I shoot to kill regardless of the caliber.  Ever heard of this??


If you carry a semi-auto—and I do—the brass will make it clear that you fired a handload. The argument, offered by an unprincipled attorney, would be that there was evil intent if you spent the time to ‘roll-your-own’. I don’t believe in giving ammunition to my enemies. Keep your handloads for practice and carry factory fodder.



I believe what the clerk was probably refering to was the fact that in many cases the fact that a handloaded round had been used by a self defense shooter had been utilized against the shooter who had used the weapon in self defense by the prosecutting attorney. The DA (et al) would state that the shooter had a ‘hot’ load, specailly loaded to shoot people and cause the maximum damage. While there is seldon merit to this argument, few juries are gun savy enough to see through the fallacy. Most authorities in this matter suggest that you carry the same round as the local law enforcement department simply so that this cannot be used against you, the argument being that if your local LEO carries it it cannot be considered extreme. I know, I know, it is baloney, but as long as self defense is made a political issue that it is, these things must be considered. As sad a fact as it is, if you use a firearm to defend yourself, be prepared to defend you actions in a court of law.

Allen Dean Benge

I carry my Springfield XD40 stoked with Hornady Critical Defense ammo.  It has a polymer insert that prevents the hollow point from loading up in passing through heavy clothing, a good consideration for the Pacific Northwest.  When it does get through to the target, it reliably expands, and the round is bonded, to retain its weight andc ballistic impact.  The department I used to work for issued Winchester-Western Silvertips, but I consider the Hornady offering vastly superior.

Keith Cromm

I had not yet shot my G26 9mm with defensive rounds until this past Wednesday.

I did two 5-round “surprise” draws (indoor range) wherein I holstered and hung my head (facing target) with hands at my side, I waited for a gun shot from another stall as my “action” point, quickly l look up, all the while identifying the “zombie”, unholstering and firing 5 quick rounds. 
The first 5 were on right within center-mass (center black of target), the next 5 were 3 at left and bottom of centermass, and 2 dead-center-mass.

I then shot more defensive rounds via typical point and shoot and discovered my accuracy went way up with defensive rounds; the gun handled much better.  30 rounds, all centermass.

Oh, and this article is also good for those, like me, who Open Carry.


Good advice about testing ammo.  I have a Llama .380 that I bought in 1968.  It has always performed flawlessly.  Last year I “upgraded” to a bonded hollow point of a major manufacturer.
Just to be sure, I was going to rack the slide back through the entire magazine to test the feeding.  Yo my surprise, neither magazine would feed.  The flat edge hung up in the chamber while FMJ fed perfectly.

this is not my primary carry gun, so it was no big deal, but I was surprised.

David Haydell

some of the bullets i like and have proved that they will open up

#1 winchesters talons in 45acp and 10mm  they open up just like the pictres showed

#2 remingon golden sabers they too open up very well in 45 and 10 mm

#3 hornady XTPs i have not shot but a few of these but i have a friend who loves um

David Haydell

in reading the posts below i didnt see one person who said they fired rounds to see how they open up i have to wonderwhy?
come guys YOU are betting on your life that what you are carrying will get the job done to me this is like driving a race car blindfolded

this is how i tes bullets: i have a 55 gal drum with the top cut out and it is filled with water ( remember that our body is mostly water) a good hollow point will open up in this and yo can easyly get the bullet
the talons golden sabers did great if you remembe the pictures of the talons that i what they looked like and the GS also opened up great 
  (very few”hollow points”) i would used as i didnt not like the way they opened


Winchester’s bonded PDX1  is an excellent round, it is said The FBI uses it. Thank you for your tips gentlemen!


Largest caliber and heavy I understand, likewise availability, insuring proper functioning, practice, and regular updating basic load – but why 12″ minimum penetration of ballistic gelatin?  Male chest might be 10″ – 12″  deep, and blowing a hole through it would probably be a show stopper, but do you want to be blowing a hole in the wall between you and and your neighbor,and whatever is on the other side as well?  Or am I misunderstanding penetration probabilities?

Dan Ess

The penetration depth takes into account that you may not always be able to get a front on shot or that an appendage (plus clothing) might be in the path as well. A 3″ or better arm in the way for example. Some suggest deeper penetrating rounds in the cooler weather months to compensate for clothing. Most articles and people I’ve spoken with, refrain from using FMJ ammo for self defense (excessive penetration risks). I like the 12″ depth when you factor in variables like clothes, bones, sideshot, heavier suspect and type of weapon being used (short vs long barrel). I feel multiple shots (2 to 3) is a better/safer choice than ammo that over penetrates.


as always round placement is most important-seems  somewhat lighter faster bullets ie 185gr 45 cal. may provide better control

Gman Templar

The errors I see are that the FBI test protocol may show that it is a very solid bullet engineering…but CCW holders do not have to worry about shooting through auto safety glass set at compound angles or through auto sheet metal. The other point being…what happens to these bullets designed for specific performance criteria when fired from “service length barrels” and are then fired at the lower velocities of normal CCW length barrels? How will it perform through denim and/or bare gelatin? Also, what about the muzzle flash associated with the powders that are used in ammo that are tailored to operate in 4-5″ barrels, but are then fired in 2-3″ barrels? Right now, it appears that there are two types/brands of ammo/bullets of conventional design that are specifically engineered to address the shorter barrels of the average carrier: Hornady Critical Defense and Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel.

Officer Laney

Great article. Only had to use my Glock 21 once in a defensive situation, and it truly is all about bullet size.


Generally, I agree with you. Shot placement is certainly the most important component in defensive shooting, but muzzle energy is a close second. The idea is to generate the most energy possible coupled with a bullet that will expand when it hits ensuring that all the kinetic energy is absorbed by the target.

My carry weapon is a Model 1911, the first handgun I ever fired. I hand load my cartridges with a 185 grain Hornady XTP leaving the muzzle at 1,020 fps, 427 ft-lbs of muzzle energy.

My three petite nieces wanted to carry .22 or .32 caliber mouse guns but I discouraged them from buying anything smaller than a .380 ACP. Guys who might threaten them are likely to be drunk or on drugs; shooting a stoned, 6′ tall 200 lb attacker with a .22 would just piss him off. The minimum load for them is a 90 grain Hornady XTP at 1000 fps, 200 ft-lbs.


Patriot–You should check out the use of force law in Colorado. It’s under chapter 18. I’ll see if I can get you more detailed info including appeals court rulings. This thread is old enough that it could use some fresh blood–pun intended. Thor


Patriot–Its actually under Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 18, Colo. Crim, Code, CRS 18-1-704 Justification & Exemptions from Criminal Responsibility Google the Colo General Assembly homepage and on the left side is a link to statutes posted by Lexus-Nexus. Pick Title 18 and expand it to firearms. If I copied it and posted it here it would take a huge amount of space. Ck all the jury instructions. Hard to prove intent when the aggressor is the deceased party. Note LEO’s can’t issue illegal orders or act illegally (very common) or a shooter can present this as an affirmative defense. They can be taken out under certain conditions–if they are too aggressive–glad I retired!