Hollow point ammunition is generally considered to be the best Home Defense and Personal Protection ammo.  The vast majority of people (over 80%) shot with handguns survive. Handguns are weak compared to rifles and shotguns, and you want every edge you can get, meaning ammo.  Self-defense ammunition relies on the hollow-point design because it does more internal damage to stop an assailant, ideally without penetrating beyond 12 inches, the width of a man sideways.

What Works and Why

For personal protection or home defense, premium hollow points are a great choice for various reasons.

  1. Hollow points expand once they come in contact with another object during their time of flight (soft tissue, bone, etc.).  As the hollow point expands in the target and loses its forward momentum, the kinetic energy is fully absorbed by the target.
  2. Using a hollow point that will fully expand more than 85% of the time once inside the target, you will have a greater chance of immediate incapacitation through transfer of kinetic energy.
  3. Cheap hollow points have a history of prematurely partially expanding once in contact with clothing, lessening their full potential in target. Not so with premium hollow points.
  4. Hollow point ammunition that retains over 95% of its weight.  The more mass the projectile retains, the more retained kinetic energy. Kinetic energy = 1/2 * M * V², where M = Mass and V = velocity.

The Details

When testing a few Defensive Loads (Hollow Points), I look for a few things that determine what I carry.  Two major factors I look for are the wound ballistics and expansion consistency.

For this post, I will be using the 9 mm and .40 rounds and take a look at what I’ve found to be a really reliable, consistent, and one of the best defensive rounds.

Speer LE Gold Dot

9 mm Luger

Muzzle: 1210
25: 1133
50: 1071
75: 1022
100: 981

Energy in Foot Pounds

Muzzle: 374
25: 328
50: 293
75: 267
100: 246

.40 cal 

Velocity in Feet Per Second

Muzzle: 1150
25: 1090
50: 1042
75: 1001
100: 967

Energy in Foot Pounds

Muzzle: 484
25: 436
50: 398
75: 367
100: 342


These charts give the details on the different projectiles after shot through heavy clothing.  Keep in mind that the average depth of the human torso is 12 inches (front to back). Also note that the minimum amount of foot pounds it takes to incapacitate the average human being is 80.

9 mm

Product Tested Test Results Recovered Bullet
Velocity 1210 Recovered Bullet
9mm Luger Penetration 13.75
115 grain Expansion .590
1210 muzzle veloc. Retained Weight 114.9

.40 Cal

Product Tested Test Results Recovered Bullet
Velocity 1150 Recovered Bullet
40 S&W Penetration 18.00
165 grain Expansion .618
1150 muzzle veloc. Retained Weight 165.1

In short, I truly have found the Speer LE/Gold Dot ammo to be one of the best defense handgun ammunition on the market today.  Be sure your pistol can operate properly while feeding it the hollow point ammunition. Speer LE/Gold Dot bonds the jacket to the core one molecule at a time. By doing this, it eliminates core-jacket separation once in the target. The hollow point cavity is formed in two stages: the first establishes how far the bullet can expand and the second controls the rate of expansion, preventing over expansion.