Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

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Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby MichaelD » Sun 15 Nov 2009 8:03 pm

This list was compiled by Dr. Gary K. Roberts, a well-known wound ballistics expert and medical doctor. The current version can always be found here: http://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php? ... fense-Ammo.

(This is DocGKR's list as of 2/6/2015)
9 mm:
Barnes XPB 115 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Federal Tactical 124 gr JHP (LE9T1)
Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP (P9HST3)
Remington Golden Saber bonded 124 gr +P JHP (GSB9MMD)
Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 124 gr +P JHP (RA9124TP)
Winchester 124 gr +P bonded JHP (RA9BA)
Winchester Ranger-T 127 gr +P+ JHP (RA9TA)
Federal Tactical 135 gr +P JHP (LE9T5)
Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr +P PT
Federal HST 147 gr JHP (P9HST2)
Remington Golden Saber 147 gr JHP (GS9MMC)
Speer Gold Dot 147 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 147 gr JHP (RA9T)
Winchester 147 gr bonded JHP (RA9B/Q4364)

.40 S&W:
Barnes XPB 140 & 155 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Speer Gold Dot 155 gr JHP
Federal Tactical 165 gr JHP (LE40T3)
Speer Gold Dot 165 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 165 gr JHP (RA40TA)
Federal HST 180 gr JHP (P40HST1)
Federal Tactical 180 gr JHP (LE40T1)
Remington Golden Saber 180 gr JHP (GS40SWB)
Speer Gold Dot 180 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 180 gr JHP (RA40T)
Winchester 180 gr bonded JHP (RA40B/Q4355/S40SWPDB1)

.45 ACP:
Barnes XPB 185 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Hornady Critical Duty 220 gr +P JHP
Federal HST 230 gr JHP (P45HST2)
Federal HST 230 gr +P JHP (P45HST1)
Federal Tactical 230 gr JHP (LE45T1)
Speer Gold Dot 230 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 230 gr JHP (RA45T)
Winchester Ranger-T 230 gr +P JHP (RA45TP)

-- Obviously, clone loads using the same bullet at the same velocity work equally well (ie. Black Hills ammo using Gold Dot bullets, Corbon loads using Barnes XPB bullets, etc…)

-- Bullet designs like the Silver Tip, Hydra-Shok, and Black Talon were state of the art 15 or 20 years ago. These older bullets tend to plug up and act like FMJ projectiles when shot through heavy clothing; they also often have significant degradation in terminal performance after first passing through intermediate barriers. Modern ammunition which has been designed for robust expansion against clothing and intermediate barriers is significantly superior to the older designs. The bullets in the Federal Classic and Hydrashok line are outperformed by other ATK products such as the Federal Tactical and HST, as well as the Speer Gold Dot; likewise Winchester Ranger Talons are far superior to the old Black Talons or civilian SXT's.

----------------------------------------

Basically all the standard service calibers work when using good quality ammunition.

Here are some useful resources:

http://www.winchester.com/SiteCollectio ... bullit.swf
http://winchesterle.com/SiteCollectionD ... otocol.pdf

http://le.atk.com/wound_ballistics/load ... rison.aspx
http://le.atk.com/resources/videos.aspx
http://le.atk.com/resources/technical_bulletins.aspx

------------------------------------------

The keys are:

-- Cultivate a warrior mindset
-- Invest in competent, thorough initial training and then maintain skills with regular ongoing practice
-- Acquire a reliable and durable weapon system
-- Purchase a consistent, robust performing duty/self-defense load in sufficient quantities (at least 1000 rounds) then STOP worrying about the nuances of handgun ammunition terminal performance.


Most of these loads can be found for sale at Ammunition To Go or SG Ammo.
Last edited by MichaelD on Thu 19 Nov 2015 1:09 pm, edited 11 times in total.
S&W M&P9
S&W M&P9c
pistol-training.com
The M&P Endurance Gun
Dr. Gary K. Roberts' list of recommended SD ammo

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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby xRapidDavex » Mon 16 Nov 2009 12:55 am

Any insight as to why these rounds were chosen? Like 180gr Gold Dot Speer 40 S&W over 165gr?
It's not so much that the gun does or doesn't do what it's supposed to, it's simply not running anymore. So if it doesn't run, what I do is sort of wang on it until it does.

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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby MarshallDodge » Mon 16 Nov 2009 8:52 am

Good post MichaelD. DocGKR does a good job of using a standardized test method and applying it to different loads to see how they perform or fail.

xRapidDavex wrote:Any insight as to why these rounds were chosen? Like 180gr Gold Dot Speer 40 S&W over 165gr?

From what I can see in the ballistics gel test, the difference is minimal, just a little more penetration with the 180 which may be the reason.

I seem to get a little better accuracy with my M&P40 using a 180 grain bullet.
Kirk
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby xRapidDavex » Mon 16 Nov 2009 1:47 pm

I suppose, but life is a series of tradeoffs. I didn't like the feel of 180gr .40 rounds coming out of my "compact" weapon, so I opted for 165gr.

Wouldn't that also mean that the 180gr round travels through the air slower than the 165gr round?
Last edited by xRapidDavex on Mon 16 Nov 2009 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
It's not so much that the gun does or doesn't do what it's supposed to, it's simply not running anymore. So if it doesn't run, what I do is sort of wang on it until it does.

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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby schmack » Mon 16 Nov 2009 2:21 pm

I've read that the 147gr 9mm rounds jam in many pistols, even reliable modern ones. I carry 124gr Gold Dot.
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby MichaelD » Mon 16 Nov 2009 3:06 pm

xRapidDavex wrote:Any insight as to why these rounds were chosen? Like 180gr Gold Dot Speer 40 S&W over 165gr?


In some cases, specific weights aren't on the list simply because they haven't yet been tested by DocGKR (he only tests rounds when requested by LE agencies to do so). The 124-gr Federal HST +P, for instance, is an excellent round with plenty of fans; but according to firearms instructor Todd Green it hasn't been tested by the good Doctor.

schmack wrote:I've read that the 147gr 9mm rounds jam in many pistols, even reliable modern ones.


That's exactly why it's a good idea to function-test in your specific weapon any round you're considering carrying.
S&W M&P9
S&W M&P9c
pistol-training.com
The M&P Endurance Gun
Dr. Gary K. Roberts' list of recommended SD ammo

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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby MarshallDodge » Mon 16 Nov 2009 3:40 pm

xRapidDavex wrote:Wouldn't that also mean that the 180gr round travels through the air slower than the 165gr round?


I assume you are asking about velocity? It depends on a couple factors which are limited by chamber pressure.

If you loaded a 165 and 180 at the same pressure, the 180 will have a lower velocity but have the same energy. Physics!
Kirk
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby Jarubla » Mon 16 Nov 2009 6:06 pm

I suppose I am opening a can of worms here, but hasnt there been some common advice given (Utah Gun Law 3rd Editon) that we shouldn't use reloads as personal defense ammo? Something about juries and hot loads?

Am I looking too much into the data listed above as this is listed in the ammo section (reloads)?

Apologies for the red herring of a question, just curious...

-Jay
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby MarshallDodge » Mon 16 Nov 2009 6:47 pm

Jarubla wrote:I suppose I am opening a can of worms here, but hasnt there been some common advice given (Utah Gun Law 3rd Editon) that we shouldn't use reloads as personal defense ammo? Something about juries and hot loads?

Am I looking too much into the data listed above as this is listed in the ammo section (reloads)?

Apologies for the red herring of a question, just curious...

-Jay

"This is an area to discuss reloading and other general ammunition topics." ;)
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby Jarubla » Tue 17 Nov 2009 12:43 pm

Oh snap! I shoulda caught that one!

I'd better contribute then, I carry Federal Hydra-shok, Golden Sabre, or Speer Lawman

-Jay
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby thx997303 » Wed 18 Nov 2009 3:29 pm

Double post.
Last edited by thx997303 on Wed 18 Nov 2009 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby thx997303 » Wed 18 Nov 2009 3:30 pm

From recent experience, I have found many of the self defense hollowpoints to be inferior to heavy cast lead bullets with a large flat meplat.

Inferior in expansion reliability and weight retention that is. I have not yet tested penetration in a scientifically acceptable medium.
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby MichaelD » Wed 18 Nov 2009 8:02 pm

All of the rounds in the list above have passed some of the most rigorous testing the law enforcement and firearms worlds have to offer. They all have excellent weight retention and expansion. If Dr. Roberts says they're good to go, they are.
S&W M&P9
S&W M&P9c
pistol-training.com
The M&P Endurance Gun
Dr. Gary K. Roberts' list of recommended SD ammo

Carry guns are like work trucks: who cares if they get beat up a little as long as they work when you need them to.
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby thx997303 » Thu 19 Nov 2009 7:53 am

I'm not saying the loads above aren't good, but I can't help but notice the lack of testing on lead rounds.

But think about it for a second, lead bullets will never get a clogged hollowpoint, they will always expand, and they have no jacket to lose, so have excellent weight retention.

Jacketed Hollow Points on the other hand, can get a clogged hollopoing though they have improved the design so that this does not occur as often, may or may not expand, and tend to get jacket seperation.

Not trying to step on anyones toes here, just speaking from my experience.
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Re: Recommended self-defense loads for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP

Postby Car Knocker » Thu 19 Nov 2009 9:31 am

thx997303 wrote:lead bullets...will always expand

Depends on how hard the lead is - hard-cast bullets will not expand a significant amount

thx997303 wrote:Jacketed Hollow Points on the other hand...tend to get jacket seperation.

Is this necessarily a bad thing if the design intent of a hollowpoint is to expend all its energy in the target and not exit? Does jacket separation result in significantly less penetration of the lead core? If the two components take separate courses within the target, might not the additional damage that results more than offset and decreased penetration?

thx997303 wrote:Jacketed Hollow Points on the other hand, can get a clogged hollopoing

In the case that the hollowpoint becomes clogs, doesn't it, in effect, become a solid, flat-point bullet and would then have the same penetration characteristics of a hard lead bullet of the same weight?
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