A Brief History and Introduction to 10mm Auto
First introduced in 1983, 10mm ammo was created through the collaboration of ammunition manufacturer FFV Norma AB, Whit Collins, John Adams, Irving Stone, and Jeff Cooper.
Their goal was to make a superior handgun cartridge that fired a heavier and larger caliber bullet than the 9mm Luger at a higher velocity than the 45 ACP.
The group initially cut open a 30 Remington case and loaded it with 40 caliber rounds from the 38-40 Winchester. The original 10mm auto caliber shot a 200-grain projectile at 1,200 feet per second, which was a significant performance increase compared to the 9mm Luger and the 45 ACP.
Additionally, Jeff Cooper and the rest of the team worked with the firearms manufacturer Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises to build a handgun designed to shoot the new ammunition. The end result was a new pistol named the Bren Ten semi-auto pistol.
Slow to catch on with the general public, 10mm ammo was initially viewed as an odd cartridge, used mainly by a small niche in the shooting community. However, a shootout between a handful of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a couple bank robbers in Miami in 1986 changed the cartridge's trajectory substantially.
The rounds fired by FBI agents lacked the penetration required to quickly incapacitate the robbers, especially rounds that needed to pass through car doors or vehicle glass. In the end, the FBI took the lessons from the Miami shootout and adopted the 10mm as their standard-issue cartridge because of its additional penetration and excellent terminal ballistics.
5 Things You Should Know about 10mm Ammunition
(#1) 10mm Auto Recoil
A couple years after the FBI adopted 10mm ammunition, they soon realized they had too much of a good thing for their small army of accountants and lawyers.
It also didn't help that the FBI, who generally speaking were not firearm enthusiasts, determined that 10mm recoil made it less than ideal for casual concealed carry owners &/or pistol owners.
Firing a 10mm handgun can be a drastic experience, especially when comparing it to a smaller caliber. Unlike 9mm ammunition that produces a quick but firm shove, 10mm ammo gives you all its recoil at once, with a much sharper, more intense feeling against the hands.
While the 10mm has bullet weights similar to a 45 ACP, those bullets are smaller in diameter and move about 100 feet per second faster out of the muzzle. These two facts are small details that make a big difference in how the bullet performs when it arrives on target.
(#2) 10mm Auto Ballistics
Regarding 10mm ammunition ballistics, there's not much of a comparison between the other respective calibers. For example, the XTP line of ammunition from Hornady offers 180-grain XTP in 10mm boasts 1,275 fps and a pounding 650 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle.
The 40 S&W firing the same round delivers 950 fps and 361 ft/lbs, and a 45 ACP firing a lighter 185-grain XTP shows 970 fps and 386 ft/lbs at the muzzle. In other words, the 10mm auto offerings are 16% faster and produce 30% more energy with the same projectile.
(#3) 10mm Auto Velocity
The velocity of the 10mm means that jacketed hollow point bullets will open quickly on impact while still penetrating deeply. Regarding trajectory, the 10mm beats out the 45 ACP just as Cooper and his team had intended.
10mm rounds generally drop as few as 10" compared to older rounds that offered a relatively slow 830 fps muzzle velocity, which dropped approximately 15" at 100 yards over the same distance.
This combination makes it an excellent choice for self-defense when over-penetration is less likely to be problematic. For example, I wouldn't choose a 10mm for home defense.
Still, I would choose it for concealed carry in rural environments when it's not difficult to hide a full-sized handgun. I would lean heavily towards a 10mm pistol if my self-defense needs took me into the great outdoors.
(#4) 10mm Hunting Ammo
Let's shift our focus and talk about specific types of 10mm ammo, or what I like to call the 'Ultimate Wilderness Carry Round.'
Being armed while you're out and enjoying the outdoors (but need to be armed) is where the 10mm really shines. When loaded with jacketed hollow points and equipped with a red dot sight, the 10mm is potent medicine for any two or four-legged threats as far away as 100 yards.
Also, when it comes to four-legged threats, you'd have a difficult time finding a more dangerous threat than a bear. Hard-cast flat-nose bullets from the 10mm are by far the best handgun solution available. Sure, big-bore revolvers offer more ballistic horsepower, but a semi-auto 10mm can put a lot of hurt on a rampaging bear in a hurry.
(#5) 10mm Ammo Options
Depending on your desired use, you'll generally find a variety of 10mm ammunition online on the shelves at your local firearm retailer. *Nearly every ammunition manufacturer has at least one or two lines of 10mm auto available.
If you're looking for true stopping power - similar to a long-distance hole-punch for angry critters, then consider Hard-cast flat-nose bullets. Flat nose ammo can penetrate as deep as 3 ft into living tissue, leaving an excellent wound cavity because it disrupts tissue more effectively than a round-nose bullet.
I find the best options for these 10mm ammunition types are Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and Federal Solid Core. Personally, I find that Federal Solid Core is the better of the three. Mainly because of the wide, flat nose and its syntech coating that keeps lead fouling to a minimum.
Lastly, if you're just looking to throw some practice rounds downrange, I'd recommend a Magtech Sport 10mm auto. Available in 180-grain FMJ, the Magtech Sport 10mm auto offers dependability and superior performance shot after shot and is an excellent brand of high-quality, low-cost target ammunition.
Want to take a look at our full online selection of 10mm ammo