Rating Some of the Best Defensive Handgun Rounds

Rating Some of the Best Defensive Handgun Rounds

8th May 2024

A handgun round designed for defensive applications should offer a supreme balance between stopping power and manageability. It should produce optimal stopping power without too much recoil, and it should not overpenetrate. Ideally, a defensive round should also not plug when passing through interposing barriers, and should exhibit consistent expansion and terminal performance to incapacitate the target as quickly as possible.

Some are better than others. We’re covering some of the best handgun ammo for defensive applications, from home defense to concealed carry, in this post.

Federal HST

Federal HST is the next iteration of Federal’s original Hydra-Shok ammo that offers top-tier performance in a defensive handgun round.

Federal HST is slightly different from Hydra-Shok (despite the fact that HST stands for ‘Hydra-Shok Technology’) in that it lacks a center post.

However, Federal HST does consist of non-bonded, jacketed hollow point bullets with deep skives in the jacket.

These skives serve as tearaway points in the jacket, allowing for consistent, controlled expansion on impact with a soft target, dumping all the round’s energy quickly and efficiently.

HST ammo is also tested not to plug, even when passing through several layers of fabric. When a hollow point bullet plugs, its efficacy sharply drops.

However, HST has been extensively vetted not to plug, ensuring consistent, reliable disruption even when several barriers of fabric are present.

Moreover, HST offers an excellent balance between energy transfer and penetration without penetrating too far, reducing the risk of use in crowded places. As a result, it is the choice of many Law Enforcement Officers around the country.

Federal Hydra-Shok Deep

Federal’s Hydra-Shok ammo is the forerunner to HST, and one of the best lines is the Hydra-Shok Deep ammo.

Hydra-Shok Deep has a few design features going for it that improve performance. One is that the design of the bullet feeds with remarkable consistency - something that can be a problem with some guns, especially those that have stepped feed ramps.

On top of that, Hydra-Shok Deep has a central post. This central post helps to redirect hydraulic forces from the center of the hollow point to the inside walls, pushing them out and helping to ensure optimal, consistent, maximum expansion and energy transfer.

Like Federal HST, Hydra-Shok Deep bullets are not bonded, but these feature a core design that is optimized for penetration when there are interposing barriers present - such as windows and potentially even doors.

But it gets better. Hydra-Shok Deep ammo is not just optimized for performance on impact. It is exceptionally accurate, especially for hollow point defensive ammo. Get some and try it at the range - you’ll see.

Remington UMC Hollow Point

                           Remington UMC

Remington UMC Hollow Point ammo is available in a wide range of popular calibers, from 9mm Luger to .380 ACP, with everything in between - which makes it highly accessible for many different handgun shooters. Whatever your handgun’s chambering, there is probably a Remington UMC round for it.

In terms of performance, UMC Hollow Point is no slouch, either. These cartridges are loaded with high-quality jacketed hollow point bullets that offer the perfect balance between energy transfer and penetration, maximizing stopping power while minimizing the risks of penetrating too deeply.

They are engineered for smooth feeding, reliability, accuracy, and consistent disruption on impact, as well as for value. There are few other defensive handgun rounds that are as affordable as UMC, and likely none that strike the balance between affordability and top-tier performance.

But there’s more to love about Remington UMC. Remington uses Kleanbore Primers, keeping your gun cleaner, and top-quality virgin brass, a big bonus for reloaders. That will help push the affordability of Remington UMC even a bit higher.

Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point

                  Remington UMC

Speer Gold Dot ammo is another top-tier defensive line that we carry here at Bucking Horse Outpost. Like the others here, Speer Gold Dot is engineered for uncompromising performance, consistency, reliability, accuracy, and of course, power.

Speer elevates this pursuit to an art form, however, and the hollow point of each caliber is specifically tuned, with respect to bullet mass and caliber, to ensure optimal performance. Both the rate of expansion, and how far the bullet ultimately expands, are closely controlled in Speer Gold Dot bullets.

Also, Speer Gold Dot bullets feature smooth nose profiles that help ensure smooth, consistent feeding, and a special electrochemical process is applied to the jacket and core to effectively eliminate any separation during impact and expansion. This also ensures a higher degree of accuracy, and bonded jackets also tend to penetrate more deeply, generating a longer overall wound channel.

On top of that, Speer Gold Dot bullets are loaded with CCI primers for consistency and reliability under a wide range of conditions, along with clean-burning propellants.

Ammo Inc. JHP

                               Remington UMC

Last but not least, we want to give Ammo Inc.’s Jacketed Hollow Point ammo the spotlight. It might not get the same notoriety as Speer Gold Dot or Federal HST ammo, but it is reliable, consistent, and driven to perform.

Like the other ammo listed here, Ammo Inc.’s JHP ammo is designed to strike the balance between penetration and expansion, generating excellent energy transfer without penetrating too deeply. It is also engineered for reliability and accuracy.

But there’s one thing that Ammo Inc. has the market cornered on, and that’s price. When it comes to affordability in defensive ammo, this is definitely one of the best.

Not to suggest it’s cheap, though - it isn’t. It still delivers consistent, reliable performance, in multiple calibers, in a wide range of firearms, making it practical for the demanding requirements of defensive carry. You could do a lot worse, and the low price of this line just makes that much more appealing.

Stock Up on Defensive Ammo Here

Looking to restock your current defensive stockpile? Going to shoot through the old stuff and replace it? Find what you need here.

We offer competitive prices on some of the top brands in the industry and you can find many of the lines covered in our online shop. Replenish your stockpiles today and while you’re here, don’t miss a chance to check out our specials and police trade-in deals.