ARJ Defense ad

Informal Tests: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo

The #1 community for Gun Owners in Texas

Member Benefits:

  • Fewer Ads!
  • Discuss all aspects of firearm ownership
  • Discuss anti-gun legislation
  • Buy, sell, and trade in the classified section
  • Chat with Local gun shops, ranges, trainers & other businesses
  • Discover free outdoor shooting areas
  • View up to date on firearm-related events
  • Share photos & video with other members
  • ...and so much more!
  • Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Jul 14, 2008
    Hello. I recently bought a small quantity of Hornady's new "Critical Defense" line of ammuntion in both .380 ACP and .38 Special. Neither is +P-rated.


    Hornady's XTP line of ammunition uses a bullet that usually expands to about 1.5 times its original diameter (left). The new Critical Defense ammunition uses Hornady's FTX bullet (right). It is a jacketed lead bullet but one that has its hollow cavity filled with a very maleable plastic material that prevents its being clogged and almost guarantees expansion. Based on my admittedly limited and statistically-invalid layman's "tests", I believe it to be so.

    I chronographed each load and found an average velocity of 911 ft/sec when the .380 ACP 90-gr. Critical Defense load was fired from a 3.5" bbl Bersa Thunder.

    This does not meet the published velocity of 1000 ft/sec from the company.

    The .38 Special load was fired from a well-used S&W Model 042 with the usual 1 7/8" bbl. Its average velocity measured 856 ft/sec, far short of the nominal listed velocity of 1175 ft/sec. These figures are based on 10 shots fired 10 feet from the chronograph screens.


    In my opinion, these are probably the best performing loads for a 38-caliber revolver. All but the Hornady 110-gr. Critical Defense (far right) are +P. L to R: Remington 158-gr. LHP +P, Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P, Speer 135-gr. Gold Dot +P, and Hornady 110-gr. Critical Defense.

    It becomes pretty obvious that either longer barrels or pressure barrels were used when Hornady got their data.

    In super-saturated newsprint, average penetration (also based on ten shots with 5 of each caliber fired through 4 layers of an old cotton/polyester towel) was 6.75" for the .380, which probably translates to just over 10" penetration in calibrated 10% ballistic gelatin. This is as good as I've seen for an expanding bullet in this caliber. Most do about 7.5 to 8" in gelatin, it seems.

    The .38's were fired following the same protocol and achieved an average velocity of 856 ft/sec with penetration in the soaked newsprint averaging 7.6" or probably about 11.4" in ballistic gelatin.

    I was amazed at the extreme consistency not only the expansion's reliability but the small differences in speed, shot to shot for each caliber. I could not differentiate between the expanded bullets fired through the towel and those that were not.


    Both the .380 ACP and .38 Special Critical Defense loads proved exceptionally consistent. Average expanded diameter for the .380 was approximately 47-caliber and 48-caliber for the .38 Special load.

    In my admittedly limited experience with this new ammunition, it appears to work and work very well.
    For those interested in a more detailed report, it can be found here:

    hi-powers--handguns: Informal Tests: Hornady Critical Defense .380 & .38 Special

    ARJ Defense ad


    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Feb 23, 2008
    San Antonio
    Excellent! I read up on these in American Rifleman a month or two ago. They seem like just the ticket for penetrating heavy clothing. Can't wait till they come out with .45 ACP.

    Old Man of the Mountain

    Active Member
    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Jan 5, 2009
    It looks like it will be a big improvement over the XTP.

    I thought the XTP had a good reputation, but I saw an FBI report the other day that implied it expanded in ballistic gelatin fine, but not if the gelatin was covered in denim, sounded like no expansion then, but it did not give a lot of information on that.

    Maybe someone else knows a bit more about that?
    Every Day Man


    Latest posts

    Forum statistics

    Latest member
    Top Bottom