BET YOUR LIFE

10 Home De­fense Loads You Can Trust

Home Defender - - Home Defender - By Bob Camp­bell Lead photo by Larry Atil, Pho­tos by Bob Camp­bell

You’re new to the world of firearms. You’ve heard some am­mu­ni­tion is bet­ter-suited for home de­fense than oth­ers, but you don’t know where to start. For­tu­nately, you’ve come to the right place.

In the fol­low­ing story, I have se­lected 10 loads in sev­eral cal­ibers that are close to ideal for per­sonal de­fense. They max­i­mize each in­di­vid­ual cal­iber and build upon the long suits of the cal­iber/hand­gun com­bi­na­tion.

I have tested the am­mu­ni­tion and spe­cific loads and found them to be re­li­able in a va­ri­ety of hand­guns. In bal­lis­tic test­ing, they ex­hibit de­sir­able per­for­mance in ar­ti­fi­cial medium. Over­all, these loads are good enough to rea­son­ably bet your life on.

01 .380 ACP BLACK HILLS AM­MU­NI­TION 60-GRAIN HONEY BADGER

I do not con­sider the .380 ACP an ad­e­quate de­fense car­tridge by any means. Just the same, many are in use, and I would be re­miss not to at­tempt to find a load that makes the best of the cal­iber.

FMJ loads may pen­e­trate ad­e­quately, but lack wound po­ten­tial, while JHP loads of­ten un­der-pen­e­trate.

So, what is the so­lu­tion?

The an­swer is the Honey Badger bul­let, a solid-cop­per bul­let with sharp flutes in the body. This load clocks an hon­est 1,250 fps from my Rock Is­land Baby Rock.

Ac­cu­racy with this pocket-sized 1911 is ex­cel­lent, which is on the or­der of a 2-inch group at 15 yards. I am

“THE PRO­JEC­TILE MUST PEN­E­TRATE 12-16 INCHES IN WA­TER OR BAL­LIS­TIC GELATIN TO REACH THE VI­TALS …”

im­pressed by this load­ing. It el­e­vates the .380 ACP into a vi­able last-ditch de­fender.

The 9mm and .45 Honey Badger loads are even more for­mi­da­ble. No mat­ter what ma­te­rial they meet, these loads of­fer good pen­e­tra­tion and tis­sue de­struc­tion. Yet, they do not over-pen­e­trate in test­ing as the rel­a­tively light bul­let weight and de­sign slow the bul­let down.

02 9MM LUGER: BLACK HILLS 115-GRAIN EXP

The 115-grain Ex­tra Power load­ing isn’t loaded to +P pres­sure. The 115-grain bul­let con­sis­tently clocks 1,200 fps in a 4-inch bar­rel 9mm hand­gun. For those con­cerned with ex­cess re­coil and weapons wear, this is an ideal load­ing. Ex­pan­sion is rapid and pen­e­tra­tion is ad­e­quate. This is a for­mi­da­ble load for home de­fense.

03 9MM LUGER: BLACK HILLS 124-GRAIN JHP +P

This is a ser­vice-grade load­ing with the bal­ance of ex­pan­sion and pen­e­tra­tion, fa­vor­ing pen­e­tra­tion.

The 124-grain bul­let of­fers good ex­pan­sion, while pen­e­trat­ing to the ideal range. This load of­ten rides in my per­sonal SIG P01, my fa­vorite go-any­where, do-any­thing, 9mm hand­gun. Ve­loc­ity is close to 1,200 fps in most hand­guns.

04 .38 SPE­CIAL: SPEER GOLD DOT 135-GRAIN +P

Most .38 Spe­cial loads were de­signed for per­for­mance in a 4-inch bar­rel. At lower ve­loc­ity from a 2-inch bar­rel carry gun, per­for­mance suf­fers. The Speer 135-grain Gold Dot is among a very few loads de­signed for op­ti­mal per­for­mance in a short-bar­rel re­volver. Both ex­pan­sion and pen­e­tra­tion are good. The load is con­trol­lable and ac­cu­racy is good, mak­ing the Gold Dot a win­ner.

05 .357 MAG­NUM: WINCH­ESTER 125-GRAIN

PDX

This is a medium-power load in­tended for con­trol and ac­cu­racy in a per­sonal de­fense re­volver. As an ex­am­ple, Winch­ester’s 125-grain Su­per X JHP 1,380 fps load is re­duced to 1,235 fps in the 2.25-inch bar­rel SP101 and the re­volver will buck and kick in this light hand­gun. The PDX load breaks 1,100 fps, yet it of­fers ex­cel­lent pen­e­tra­tion and ex­pan­sion. This is a rea­son­able load for home de­fense. It is con­trol­lable in dou­ble-ac­tion pairs and is a good choice for the Ruger SP101 and sim­i­lar re­volvers.

06 .357 MAG­NUM: HOR­NADY 125-GRAIN CRIT­I­CAL DE­FENSE

If you use a 4-inch bar­rel .357 Mag­num for home de­fense, the Hor­nady Crit­i­cal De­fense load­ing is an ex­cel­lent choice. Ve­loc­ity is right at 1,400 fps; from a short-bar­rel re­volver, such as the Ruger SP101, the ve­loc­ity is at 1,240 fps. Ex­pan­sion is out­stand­ing. This is a for­mi­da­ble load with much to of­fer for those will­ing to mas­ter the Mag­num re­volver.

07 .40 SMITH & WES­SON: WINCH­ESTER 155-GRAIN SILVERTIP

The Silvertip uses a crease fold de­sign that al­lows for su­perb ex­pan­sion while stay­ing to­gether in the tar­get. The pow­er­ful .40-cal­iber load­ing breaks 1,100 fps. In a full-size SIG, Beretta or Glock hand­gun, this load is con­trol­lable and of­fers among the most at­trac­tive wound bal­lis­tics of any .40-cal­iber load­ing. Ac­cu­racy is good, and the load has proven ef­fec­tive in crit­i­cal in­ci­dents.

“FOR THOSE CON­CERNED WITH EX­CESS RE­COIL AND WEAPONS WEAR, THIS [BLACK HILLS 115-GRAIN EXP] IS AN IDEAL LOAD­ING.”

08 .44 SPE­CIAL: HOR­NADY 165-GRAIN CRIT­I­CAL DE­FENSE

With the in­tro­duc­tion of the Ruger GP100 .44 Spe­cial, with its un­fluted five-shot cylin­der, great strength and ex­cel­lent ac­cu­racy, the .44 Spe­cial may be­come even more pop­u­lar. With the right load, the .44 Spe­cial of­fers wound bal­lis­tics like the .45 ACP. Us­ing heavy loads, the .44 Spe­cial is suit­able for out­door use and hunt­ing. For home de­fense, the Hor­nady Crit­i­cal De­fense load­ing is ideal. The Crit­i­cal De­fense is con­trol­lable and suit­able for use even in the Char­ter Arms Bull­dog re­volver. This is among one of the best com­bi­na­tions for home de­fense. Re­coil is mod­est in the 36-ounce Ruger GP100, yet the crit­i­cal de­fense load­ing of­fers true, big bore wound bal­lis­tics.

09 SIG SAUER ELITE .45 ACP 200-GRAIN JHP

I have watched the de­vel­op­ment of the SIG Sauer line of am­mu­ni­tion with great in­ter­est. The V Crown jack­eted hol­low point bul­let is well de­signed. This pro­jec­tile ex­pands re­li­ably and of­fers a good bal­ance of ex­pan­sion and pen­e­tra­tion. My fa­vorite per­sonal de­fense car­tridge is the .45 ACP. With a good bal­ance of wound po­ten­tial and con­trol in a Com­man­der-size hand­gun, I find the com­bi­na­tion worth­while. I have tested the SIG Sauer Elite .45 ACP loads in the steel frame 1911, SIG P220 and Smith & Wes­son Shield .45. Re­sults have been good to ex­cel­lent. I have gauged the pen­e­tra­tion and ex­pan­sion of the 185-, 200- and 230-grain V Crown loads in .45 ACP. While I would be com­fort­able with any of the three, and all are re­li­able loads, I found that the 200-grain V Crown of­fers the best per­for­mance. At 978 fps, the bal­ance of ex­pan­sion and pen­e­tra­tion for home de­fense is good. The 200-grain load is con­trol­lable in even light­weight .45-cal­iber pis­tols.

10 BLACK HILLS AM­MU­NI­TION 230-GRAIN JHP

Black Hills of­fers a good choice in .45 ACP loads, in­clud­ing the all-cop­per bul­let TAC +P and a +P load­ing in the 230-grain weight. I have car­ried the 230-grain JHP in my per­sonal .45cal­iber hand­guns for over a decade. Qual­ity is high and the ac­cu­racy is bet­ter than I can hold. The 230-grain jack­eted hol­low point strikes to the point of aim in most 1911 hand­guns. Ve­loc­ity is higher than some JHP loads in the same bul­let weight at 870 fps from a 5-inch bar­rel. I like to pre­pare for worst-case sce­nar­ios. With the pen­e­tra­tion of­fered by this load­ing, a heav­ily clad home in­vader, or one be­hind cover, would not be in­vul­ner­a­ble to in­com­ing fire. HD

Hand­guns re­quire many con­sid­er­a­tions in loads. The 9mm doesn’t kick much, but the .38 Spe­cial load­ings must be cho­sen based on rea­son­able re­coil—while the .40 ex­hibits snappy re­coil with some loads.

The Honey Badger is avail­able in sev­eral cal­ibers. It is par­tic­u­larly well suited to the .380 ACP.

Bot­tom: The au­thor has tested most of the per­sonal de­fense loads on the mar­ket. The loads cov­ered in this fea­ture are among the most use­ful.

Right: Winch­ester’s .357 Mag­num PDX load is sen­si­bly loaded down, but of­fers ex­cel­lent ex­pan­sion.

Bot­tom: SIG Sauer load­ings have demon­strated ex­cel­lent feed re­li­a­bil­ity.

Top: The Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion Honey Badger loads have proven im­pres­sive in test­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.