This is a great study and a must read for anybody who truly wants to know what ammo is and is not appropriate for their needs. The team tests 109 different handgun loads through a 4-layer barrier into ballistic gelatin. Enjoy the treasure trove of data and see how each round compared under identical testing conditions to other ammunition options.

There where four tested firearms in the 9mm, .380 auto, .40, and .45 ACP ranges:

What is ballistic testing? Well, ballistics is essentially the study of how a bullet performs under different circumstances. A bullet’s trajectory, speed, and terminal ballistics can all be measured and studied.


They tested a lineup of hollow point ammunition, which includes 109 different loads, covering four of the most popular calibers – 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and .380 Auto. They then analyzed and compared the data against the set of performance standards used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a resource for you to use when shopping for and considering self defense ammo.

Ammunition Penetration – To meet the FBI penetration standard, a handgun bullet must consistently penetrate on average a minimum of 12 inches and a maximum or 18 inches into ballistics gelatin.


Ammunition Expansion– A consistently expanding self defense round is an attackers worst enemy.


Weight Retention of Bullet – The weight retention capabilities of a self defense round can help a bullet achieve outstanding performance or fail completely. I


Velocity and Energy – One of the final steps in our testing process is to shoot the ammunition with a ballistic chronograph to measure the muzzle velocity of each projectile.


One of the there major conclusions was the 9mm Speer Gold Dot 115gr. ammo appears to deliver overall poor performance when fired from our M&P Shield, but the 45 ACP Speer Gold Dot 230gr. ammo fired from our Ruger SR45 looked like a real winner. Interesting.

Quick links to the result for each type of ammo:

380 ACP Ammo

9mm Ammo

40 S&W Ammo

45 ACP Ammo


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