Selecting the Right Self-Defense Ammunition for You

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Selecting the Right Self-Defense Ammunition for You

You spent a lot of time and energy researching your self-defense firearm.

This is a great first step, but choosing the right ammunition for your gun can seem daunting when you look at how many different brands and types of ammo are out there.

It’s important to understand that declaring “the best ammo for self-defense” is a bit like claiming “world’s best coffee.”

However, there are some key things you can consider to select the right ammo for your appetite. Here is a quick guide to help you start your search:

Before You Choose

  • Consider the model and caliber of your gun to find the appropriate ammunition. Having appropriate ammunition for the gun ensures safety and functionality.

  • If you don’t have the correct ammunition for your firearm the ammo may not fit into the magazine or chamber properly, it may fit in but fail to fire, or worse — it may fire with the wrong ammo and become catastrophic.

  • Think about what you want to do with your gun. For self-defense, many people use jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets that expand upon hitting soft-tissue targets.

  • On the other hand, full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets can pierce more solid targets, such as concrete and steel —  which is particularly important in cold weather areas where assailants may be wearing thick winter clothing. Be sure to pick the type that fits your purposes.

  • When you are choosing ammo, be sure to practice with different makes and brands to get a feel for how your gun fires with each. Practice is also crucial to make sure your skills stay sharp.

  • Practice with your firearm frequently to make sure you can use it correctly. The ammo you choose makes no difference if you can’t fire safely and accurately. Remember, most practice ammo will shoot differently than the specialty self-defense loads.

  • If you want to practice with ammo that simulates the power of self-defense loads check out something like the Rattlesnake SFR line in 9mm ammo.

  • Some states have restrictions on the types or amounts of ammunition you can have. Be sure to check your local laws for this information.

  • No matter what brand or type of ammunition you choose, be sure to store it correctly. Ammo should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place out of the reach of children. You can also look into fireproof containers for additional safety.

Specific Ammo to Consider

  • Remington Gold Saber: A brass jacketed hollow point, this is a classic choice that has been used by law enforcement and civilian self-defense for years.

  • Speer Gold Dot: This ammo, available in many calibers, offers a unique bonding process that ensures the core stays with the jacket after firing. This ammo is popular with many law enforcement agencies as well.

  • Hornady Critical Defense: This round offers a special coating that allows for consistent expansion, a smooth exit from the barrel, and minimal muzzle flash to protect night vision.

  • The polymer tip also prevents clogging after firing, perfect for those cold winter months, as well as contributing to smooth feeding in your firearm. Critical Defense is also optimized for short-barreled firearms (like the ones you may be carrying with you right now).

  • Sig Sauer Elite Performance: A secondary cavity behind the main cavity offers a more controlled expansion at a variety of distances.

  • Federal Hydra-Shok: First introduced in 1988 this round is certainly tried and true. Due to its longevity it is available in a wide range of calibers including for shotguns. That said 3” pistol barrels were not popular at that time.

  • Federal HST: HST is the new iteration of Hydra-shok. This is a bonded bullet, meaning the core is attached to the jacket on a molecular level, ensuring weight retention after striking an obstacle or target.

  • Hornady Critical Duty: This ammo offers a core with tougher lead and a locking band that better secures the jacket to the core, which makes the bullet more resilient to targets and barriers.

  • Non-Lead Frangible: This ammo is lightweight, allowing for faster velocities after firing. Once these enter the target, they fragment to cause multiple, smaller wounds and achieve more complete energy transfer. This means you can cause more damage to an attacker with fewer shots. Liberty Civil Defense and DRT are two examples of this type of ammo.


When you’re looking for ammunition for self-defense, you want to be sure you are choosing the best ammo for you.

It’s a good idea to consider your abilities, needs, and goals when you think about the brands and types of ammo out there.

By looking into what’s available and practicing with your firearm, you can be confident in choosing the best ammo for your needs.  


Disclaimer: Always check with your state and local laws for restrictions before ordering ammunition, and make sure you use the correct ammunition for your specific firearm.

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