These are our top five choices for 10mm Auto self-defense ammo.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say the 10mm Auto isn’t very popular for self-defense. However, that doesn’t mean the cartridge isn’t suited to the task. As long as you’re using high-quality 10mm Auto ammo designed for self-defense, it’ll perform very well in that role. While there aren’t as many choices for 10mm Auto self-defense ammo as there are for cartridges like the 9mm Luger or the .45 ACP, there are several high-quality 10mm factory loads available that are specifically designed for defense against both two- and four-legged predators.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about why these are the specific loads you should be carrying in the 10mm pistol you’re entrusting your life to, regardless of whether it’s a Colt Delta Elite, Sig P220, Glock 20, Glock 29 or something else.
All of the self-defense rounds on this list have been thoroughly evaluated in ballistic gel tests using the FBI standards by Lucky Gunner. They all offer excellent terminal performance and lots of stopping power, thanks to a good mix of outstanding penetration, high weight retention and reliable expansion.
Hornady 180-Grain XTP
The Hornady XTP is a jacketed hollow-point bullet that’s known for superior accuracy as well as outstanding terminal performance. Built with serrations in the bullet, the XTP has a strategically weakened jacket that aids in expansion. At the same time, the XTP also has a jacket of varying thickness along the length of the bullet, which controls expansion past a certain point and aids in penetration.
Hornady advertises a muzzle velocity of 1,180 feet per second with this load. This works out to 556 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. While that’s far from a “hot” 10mm load, it’s still noticeably more powerful than run-of-the-mill .40 S&W ammunition.
Federal 180-Grain Hydra Shok
The Federal 180-grain Hydra-Shok JHP lineup of ammo is another excellent choice for personal defense. It incorporates Federal’s unique center-post along with a notched jacket to help ensure reliable expansion and deep penetration.
Keep in mind that this load is designed for self-defense, not hunting. With an advertised muzzle velocity of just 1,030 feet per second (424 foot pounds of energy), its performance is on par with most .40 S&W ammo. However, performance on paper isn’t everything and this ammunition performs admirably in tests, particularly if you’re worried about over-penetration.
Winchester 175-Grain Silvertip
The Winchester Silvertip is another jacketed hollow-point bullet that’s good for self-defense. It offers good expansion and reliable, deep penetration. There isn’t much else to say about it because the bullet is such a solid, but not extremely sexy performer.
Buffalo Bore 200-Grain FMJ
Not all personal-defense situations involve a human assailant. Indeed, there are several popular bear-defense guns chambered in 10mm Auto. In those situations, you want bullets that’ll penetrate as deep as possible that can punch through the thick hide and heavy bones of the animal in order to reach the vitals.
For that reason, the best 10mm ammunition to use in a bear-defense situation incorporates full metal jacket or hard-cast bullets.
Firing a 200-grain, flat-nosed FMJ bullet at 1,200 feet per second, Buffalo Bore’s heavy 10mm ammo is one of the few loads currently in production that matches the performance of the original 10mm Auto load Norma developed in the 1980s.
These bullets are to expand, but penetrate extremely well, and their flat nose creates a larger wound channel than a typical round-nosed FMJ bullet. As a result, these characteristics make the bullet a much better choice for bear defense than for home defense or for concealed carry.
If you want to use the heaviest possible bullet, Buffalo Bore also offers a 220-grain hard-cast load that’s another good choice against bears. As Phil Shoemaker discovered in his famous use of a 9mm pistol against a brown bear a couple years ago, those hard-cast bullets (147-grain bullets in his case) really penetrate well!
The Sig Sauer 180-grain V-Crown and the 200-grain Speer Gold Dot also performed well in tests, but had more than the recommended amount of penetration (about 19 inches in each case). If over-penetration worries you, stick with the JHP bullets above. However, if that’s not a big concern for you, the Sig and Speer loads will probably also serve you well.
These are far from the only acceptable choices for 10mm self-defense ammo. Underwood, Cor Bon and DoubleTap also make really good 10mm Ammo, particularly if you want a hotter load.
As always, test the accuracy and reliability of your chosen 10mm Auto self-defense ammo at the range before you start carrying it. Different firearms often prefer different loads and bullet weights. The only way to know how they’ll perform in the real world is to spend some time at the range.