When shopping for a handgun for concealed carry, it is often recommended to purchase something of 380 caliber or greater, although sometimes a .32 caliber is considered acceptable. However, it is never a good idea to choose a caliber smaller than that, as it may not have enough stopping power. For beginners, we often recommend choosing a .380 or 9mm as a first pistol. Both tend to have no problem stopping a threat (without insane amounts of recoil), that is as long as you buy the proper self-defense ammo.
So, how do you choose the best ammo for self-defense? It is no secret that JHP’s or Jacketed Hollow Points are often regarded as the best type of ammo for self-defense. Hollow point rounds tend to expand upon contact inflicting maximum damage and often separating in your target. Standard rounds (Full Metal Jacket’s) on the other hand often pass through your target and beyond with the potential to hit something or someone you are not intending to hit.
So we know we like hollow points for self defense, but which ones are the best? This is another very subjective topic as some rounds might work better with some firearms than others. When shopping for ammo for self-defense, we always recommend shooting a full box of that particular brand of ammo before deciding if that is what you want to indeed keep as your self-defense ammo. You may just find out that the ammo you chose doesn’t feed well into your gun, in which case you might want to rethink your decision. Keeping all of that in mind here is what we chose for our top 3 boxes of self-defense ammo:
#3 Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection
This is the self-defense ammo everyone is talking about. With nickel-plated cases, they are likely to feed well in most firearms and are very reliable to shoot. These hollow points are well made to balance both expansion and penetration. However, if this is what you choose, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny as spear gold dots do not come cheap!
#2 Federal HST
Known for its stopping power, Federal HST’s are trusted by many law enforcement officers throughout the country. They are reliable, consistent, and feature superior terminal performance. Talk to somebody who’s used them and I guarantee they’ll swear by them.
#1 Hornady Critical Defense
Hornady has always been my favorite brand for self-defense ammo. They were built and designed for concealed carry guns and are unaffected by thick and heavy clothing. Their efficient propellants tend to reduce recoil in lightweight handguns and produce minimal muzzle flash protecting your vision at night. Reliability, consistency, and effectiveness all at a reasonable price is what makes Hornady Critical Defense my top pick for self-defense ammo. Be sure to check out hornady’s other types of self-defense ammo as well. They feature a great website where you can understand the testing each type of their ammunition has gone through and the results of it.