What are the Best Home Defense Rounds?

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With the steady and consistent increase in violence across the world, it is understandable that most individuals opt for arming themselves as a defense measure. This increase in the purchase of a firearm for protection has seen the rise in demand for their ammunition. The available options are very many, too many that picking out the best for your weapon may prove to be hectic and time-consuming. This piece aims at narrowing down worthy prospects to consider for the best home defense rounds.

Factors that Determine the Best Home Defense Rounds

Depending on who you ask, every individual has their own opinion of what makes up a perfect round for self-defense. Because of this, I based my findings on the FBI standards to achieve a more neutral ground and practical point of view. According to the bureau, a perfect round needs to meet certain penetration, expansion, and velocity standards for maximum effectiveness and reliability.


Penetration is among the most vital aspects that determine a bullets ability to stop a possible threat before hurting you. Without deep penetration, the projectile may not reach critical organs of the target, and this may reduce its stopping capabilities.

The FBI recommends that a self-defense round should penetrate between 12 to 18 inches on a ballistic gel to prove useful. A ballistic gel has the exact build of an organism’s internal composition and is what we use when conducting tests. Any round that its penetration results do not fall between the aforementioned brackets will not be reliable enough for defense applications.

Rounds that give below 12 inches of penetration will not be able to reach the vital organs of the threat. These mags will require more than one shot to incapacitate them entirely. On the other hand, ammo that provides a penetration length of greater than 18 inches will result in an over penetration of the projectile. 


The shot diameter of a bullet is also a vital player in stopping a threat. Different makers of ammunition have come up with a wide variety of rounds that have unique expansion capabilities. When it comes to expanding, there is no ideal limit for self-defense rounds only that it should expand 1.5 times its original diameter.

The larger a bullet expands on hitting its target, the more it is effective and efficient in bringing down a possible threat. Hollow point rounds have and always will remain a favorite to fast-expanding magazines in most shooters. They are the most preferred design and have been adapted by every round manufacturing company.

The building design of the round is not the only factor that determines its expansion capabilities. Research has come to show that the speed of the projectile when hitting the target will affect its expansion. In simple terms, the faster a bullet is traveling when reaching the threat results in a better transitioning of the projectile.


The velocity may not be equally important as the aspects mentioned above, but it still has its role in ensuring the efficiency of the round. The speed attained ensures that the bullet glides perfectly in the air and strikes its intended target with enough potency to penetrate and expand successfully. 

It also releases the required pressure in the target internal organs and hence incapacitating it immediately. Self-defense rounds do not need to be the fastest models; however, they should at least attain a considerable velocity to allow penetration of tough pairs of clothing or armor. At the right speed and angle, most available rounds can take down a medium-sized opponent.

The Best Ammo for Home Defense

There are two major players when it comes to home defense rounds.

  1. 45 ACP
  2. 9mm

They both have the required penetration, expansion and velocity to take down a threat.

Best 45 ACP Ammo for Home Defense

45 ACP rounds are among the most popular magazines available in the market, and their use is widespread from target shooting to law enforcement. Recently, an upward trend has been observed in their use as self-defense ammunition. They promise and deliver accuracy and enough stopping power to thrive both in combat and self-defense.

The first ACP ammunition was released in 1905 and carried a 200-grain bullet matched to a colt model. After numerous tests conducted across the world, a 230-grain shot became the standard fitting. Through the aid of technology, we now have these rounds able to contain a wide range of grains.

Hornady XTP 200 Grain HP

The Hornady XTP (eXtreme Terminal Pressure) is among the best rounds available for the 45 ACP, mostly because of their jacketed hollow point design. After conducting a penetration test, I found these rounds going up to 17.92 inches on a ballistic gel. I believe that this result was possible from the thick engineering of its jacket, which makes for a rigid and robust build.

These rounds are ideal for self-defense with their quality expansion, even on low velocities. Among all magazines I have experienced, I can confidently vouch for them as among the most reliable. They feature small serrations strategically positioned to weaken the copper jacket for a quick expansion once hitting its target.

The rounds’ build and design allow them to exit the muzzle at a velocity of 900fps. Each round of the magazine generates at least 360 ft. per pound of muzzle energy resulting in a lethal attempt on any organism. 

Winchester Ranger Talon 230 Grain HP

For an ultimate expansion on 45 ACP rounds, the Winchester Ranger Talon is the best option available. Supporting my claim are the results from my test, which show that this round expanded 91 inches inside the ballistic gel. This expansion rate is perfect for a self-defense round as it assures to inflict enough damage to stop any threat coming your way.

Not only did it expand excellently, but it was also able to penetrate 14.18 inches deep into the gel. According to the FBI penetration bracket, it shows that the bullet has enough potency to reach and damage the vital organs of the attacker. Moreover, after the penetration and expansion, it is still able to retain at least 97% of its original weight.

These rounds contain the third generation of black talon bullets. In fact, they are the same, and the only difference between them is their color. The most outstanding feature of these magazines is that after penetration, their razor-sharp petals expand and spin wildly, cutting through the organs. I guarantee that they are an excellent investment for defense applications and are reliable throughout.

Remington Golden Saber +P 185 Grain HP

Looking at these rounds in terms of speed; the Remington golden saber is among the fastest 45 ACP rounds. Because of this particular aspect, they are widely used in a variety of fields in which they thrive and give consistent quality results. These rounds tend to employ the use of brass jacketed hollow point bullets for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Their design allows the projectiles to reach spectacular speeds that then provide them with maximum penetration and steady expansion rates. Each of the rounds fires a 185 grain jacketed hollow point bullet at muzzle speeds of 1096 fps and can maintain high velocities during their flight. They are made in the USA and require non-corrosive primers along with nickel-plated brass cases.

Best 9mm Ammo for Home Defense

9mm are among the most commonly used calibers, mainly because of their compact nature that makes for quick and efficient handling. Despite the small size of the 9mm handguns, they are powerful and easily manageable, resulting in a perfect home defense weapon. They are also an excellent option for concealed carry guns because of their build design and size.

Ammunition options made for this caliber are extensive, with each manufacturer placing at least a dozen models in the market. This vast pool of ammunition options makes it very hectic to select one that best suits your 9mm handgun. Below I have discussed in detail the best prospects to pair to your firearm considering penetration, expansion, and velocity.

Hornady American Gunner 115 Grain HP

These Hornady made rounds offer the best penetration abilities among all 9mm ammo available in the market. These rounds were for law enforcement and defense application; however, with time, we have seen their presence in hunting. 

On a ballistic gel, these rounds penetrate 17.72 inches deep, leaving behind a smooth trail in the target. This performance can be traced back to their quality primers and casings, which offer consistent and reliable performance. Since 9mm handguns are not that heavy, each of these rounds features a 115-grain bullet which is very productive.

Black Hills Barnes XP 115 Grain

Black Hills Barnes XP rounds feature an all-copper hollow point finish in their build. The copper is responsible for its superior penetration and expansion abilities we witnessed during testing.  Upon shooting these rounds, I recorded a 1250 fps muzzle velocity, which led to the projectile achieving a 69-inch expansion range and in fact, this was the highest record scored.

Initially, they were made as law enforcement rounds; however, with time, they became favorites to home defense applications. They boast of using only quality components in the build of these magazines, which is what makes their performance breathtaking.

MagTech Guardian Gold +P 115 Grain HP

The MagTech guardian gold is among the excellent options available for your 9mm handgun and comes at an affordable price. These rounds promise all through protection with efficient and reliable results in any encounter. After a series of tests, I concluded that they are the fastest 9mm caliber rounds reaching speeds of up to 1200fps.

The JHP bullet type with a brass coating promises tremendous stopping power along with deep penetration to allow for a perfect home defense round. It is no doubt that their overall design and functionality are what has led to the rise in its following. For all 9mm owners out there, it would not hurt to have these rounds by your side.

Most Popular Ammunition Accessories

Here are some necessary ammunition accessories to work with your home defense rounds for excellent performance.

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I recommend that before heading to the store and making a blind purchase that may be unreliable or damage your weapon, you analyze the options available. This analysis will help in knowing the pros and cons of each, and decide on which round best suits your gun and shooting styles. Remember that your choice is vital, as home defense rounds need to be reliable as every second count in defensive encounters.

The 45 PCP and 9mm rounds are so far the best home defense rounds beating the standards of velocity, expansion and penetration.

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