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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a problem which probably won't get me much sympathy, but due to some recent trading, I've ended up with a number of various pistols all in different calibers. So I'm hoping to buy a good amount of defensive ammunition all at once and be done with it for a while.

But...I'm not sure what to get. I start researching 1 caliber and seem to find completely different opinions when looking at others.

So, my situation. I would like to find recommendations for personal defense ammunition for:
.45 ACP
.380 (LCP)
38 special (2 inch barrel, possibly in 3" .357 as well)
.357 Magnum (3 inch barrel)
Already have a good supply of 124+P gold dots for 9mm.

With those in mind, is it possible to start with one brand that performs well in all of these (e.g. gold dots, Hydra-shocks, etc.), or will I be digging around for the best ones to try? Of course, each will need extensive function testing to make sure it performs well in each pistol.

Or am I better off reducing the number of calibers and (shudder :ahhhhh: ) trading or selling off some pistols?
 

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I can't help with the .380 or the .45 acp, but I can offer a couple of options for the .38 special and .357 magnum. For the .38 special I use Federal 125gr. Nyclad HP's, considered by some to be the best standard presurre load for a .38 special snubby. You could look at the Hornady Critical Defense round also, its offered in standard and +p. For the 3" barreled magnum I would suggest you try either Federal 125gr. JHP (357B), Winchester 145gr. Silver Tip HP, or if not out of your price range the Corbon 125gr DPX loads. If you want a heavier weight, the 158gr. Hydro-shok is a good choice. OMO
 

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I don;'t shoot 38 or 357 but do 45 and 380. I would stick with a 230 grain hp in 45 though. From what I have researched most HP in 45 over 200 grains are pretty good (i am personally fine with hardball). in 380 I also use FMJ, first my 380 is more reliable with it and secondly penetration for me trumps expansion. I don't go to HP until 9mm - 357 sig b/c of the speed/weight of the bullet. Let the ammo opinions now take aim!
 

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Any one of the major manufacturer, premium ammo lines will work.

But, my choices in some of the calibers listed that I also have are:

.45--230 or 200gr +P Gold Dots, Hornady TAP, HST, and am trying out PDX-1. HydraShok in my 1911, as it always feeds reliably.

.357--125gr Remington SJHP, 158 Gold Dot, 150 Starfire, 147 Silvertip.
 

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Don't know about .380 but I think hornady makes a critical defense round for it. I would suggest that as well for your .38 special as well as the Nyclads that shooter X recommended. +P loads are better if you can find them. I usually carry Golden Sabers in .38+P, but that is what I can easily find.

.357 my daily carry right now is 145 gr Winchester Silvertips, but I do occasionally carry 158 gr Speer gold dots.

.45 ACP. In my opinion the best loads out there right now are the Ranger T and Federal HST. Both look like they expand well. There are also a multitude of good loads for this cartridge: Golden Sabers, Hornady XTP, Gold Dots, ect.....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Argh! This is exactly the results I've been seeing when researching everything individually.

For .380, go with x, for .357, try y, and in .45, z is the best.

I was hoping to find some common ground that one brand does well...maybe not the absolute best, but well enough to be relied on.

I DO find it interesting that there's not a universal 'stick with x and you'll do fine' option.
 

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For the .380, I like the Hornady Critical Defense round -- I've fired 50 through my LCP and that's what I'm presently carrying in there.

For the .45 - I carry either Hydrashoks (Federal) or Gold Dots (Speer) - I am waiting on a couple hundred Federal HSTs to arrive for testing - if they feed reliably, that will likely be my next round to use.

In 9mm, I'm using Federal HST.

b
 

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If you limit me to one brand that can be bought off-the-self in most locations, I'd say Remington Golden Sabers. And if your 38 Special is +P rated, they have it available for all of your calibers. It is still my preferred ammo in the 380 and 38 Special, though I'd like to try the Hornady Critical Defense in my 380 if I could ever find any. For my autos, I've switched to Federal Tactical HST but this isn't something I can find locally and it's even been difficult to find on the Net but I definitely wouldn't feel helpless if everything I owned was loaded with Golden Sabers.

Hoss
 

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If you limit me to one brand that can be bought off-the-self in most locations, I'd say Remington Golden Sabers. And if your 38 Special is +P rated, they have it available for all of your calibers. It is still my preferred ammo in the 380 and 38 Special, though I'd like to try the Hornady Critical Defense in my 380 if I could ever find any. For my autos, I've switched to Federal Tactical HST but this isn't something I can find locally and it's even been difficult to find on the Net but I definitely wouldn't feel helpless if everything I owned was loaded with Golden Sabers.

Hoss

Excellent point.

I guess, yes, if one was sticking with a single manufacturer/line, one good choice is the Remington Golden Sabre.

I guess other good choices (if they make a .380, and I'm pretty sure they do) would be Speer Gold Dot or Federal HydraShok.

I'd feel just fine with any one of those in my carry pistols, in any caliber.

Unfortunately, it seems the new "Hi-Tech" ammo lines like Ranger-T or HST are not coming out in revolver calibers...
 

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If I had to have a universal bullet, It would have to be Hydra Shocks. Its what's in my guns.
 

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.38 Spl: Hornady 125 gr JHP/XTP. It is the most accurate .38 Spl Standard pressure carry round that I have found.

Federal WB 130 gr FMJ hits to same point of impact in my guns and I use it for practice.
 

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If I had to have a universal bullet, It would have to be Hydra Shocks. Its what's in my guns.
I like the Hydra-Shok bullet but didn't mention it for a specific reason. Even though the OP doesn't list a 40 S&W in his list, my EDC is a 40 and my preferred bullet weight is 165 gr. For some reason unknown to me, Federal chose to cripple that load in their Premium Personal Defense load giving it only 980 fps with 352 ft. lbs. of energy putting it on par with most standard pressure 9mm loads.:frown: Other than that one load, the Hydra-Shok bullet is also a good choice.

Hoss
 

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Ammo

WOW! I wish I had your problem.
I can't even find any (.380) ammo anywhere in the state.
I've been south to Tucson & north to Flagstaff (and veerything in between) and I just can't find any.
 

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I like the Hydra-Shok bullet but didn't mention it for a specific reason. Even though the OP doesn't list a 40 S&W in his list, my EDC is a 40 and my preferred bullet weight is 165 gr. For some reason unknown to me, Federal chose to cripple that load in their Premium Personal Defense load giving it only 980 fps with 352 ft. lbs. of energy putting it on par with most standard pressure 9mm loads.:frown: Other than that one load, the Hydra-Shok bullet is also a good choice.

Hoss
It's my understanding the 165 gr. HydraShok matches the original .40S&W FBI loading.

The 155 Gr. loading is listed at 1140 fps and 447 ft lbs.
 

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I like the "best ammo" discussions myself, but I've long since concluded that while it's entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking. . .it's also a case of "perfection is the enemy of good enough."

If you like premium hollowpoints, can you really go wrong with any modern name-brand ammo? Federal, Winchester, Remington, Speer, Hornady. . . ? What's not to like? These designs are so much better than the ammo we & our forefathers defended ourselves with, it makes you wonder how the old ammo ever worked. (Ahem.)

I like to have an "edge" just like anyone else, I guess, but in actuality shot placement and adequate penetration will be your most important ammo-related factors, I believe. And shot placement will depend in large measure on how much run, dodge & jump you & your assailant are doing. Also, how well you can even see him. Given that estimate of the situation, my own first concern is penetration, as I'm not sure what angle the shot(s) might be at, what furniture might intervene in my home, etc. My shot could be 10-20 yards inside the house--YMMV. Since you can get good penetration & velocity (for expansion) from most 4"+ barrels, you can easily combine bullet weight with good hollowpoint design in many calibers.

In snubbies, .380s and the like, I'd vote for penetration above all else, since velocities/expansion may be marginal. At $20-$30 per box of 20 for most premium loads, my willingness/ability to shoot large quantities of that stuff is limited, anyway, and practice is probably the most important factor.

With that said, my final admission. Like you, I have all kinds of guns & different ammo/loads & probably don't practice enough with any of them, but I love 'em anyway!:smile: "Does this one shoot high & left, or low & right?" etc. Not ideal, of course, but I hope my general standard of weaponcraft will make up for it if necessary, and my 24 years of practice shooting center mass will probably be my default setting anyway! Of course, if I were in the business of going into harm's way, I'd standardize. And, my primary HD sidearm is zeroed. . .just hope I can see the sights if that day (night) ever comes.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Fantastic help (as usual on this site). For now, I'm ordering a stack of Gold Dots as a starting point (since that's what I'm already using in 9mm).

I know I can't hope that it will be perfect in everything I own, but I'll branch out from there. And no, I still haven't been able to find .380 anywhere either and am still stuck with some leftover Winchester White box I have left.
 

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I've shot both 125 gr. & 158 gr. in .357 magnum in the 4 inch barrel, I haven't noticed any big difference in re-coil. I haven't had the time to get out and shoot my snubby yet, but when I do I'll try both rounds in it as well. I've been told the re-coil of the 158 gr. is significantly more than the 125 gr. when fired from the snubby. Is this correct? Just curious as of what to expect. Thanks. :gah:
 

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I've shot both 125 gr. & 158 gr. in .357 magnum in the 4 inch barrel, I haven't noticed any big difference in re-coil. I haven't had the time to get out and shoot my snubby yet, but when I do I'll try both rounds in it as well. I've been told the re-coil of the 158 gr. is significantly more than the 125 gr. when fired from the snubby. Is this correct? Just curious as of what to expect. Thanks. :gah:
I have a S&W 686+ with the 3 inch barrel and I do notice a difference in recoil between the 125 gr and the 158 grain. Not enough that I consider it a problem, but it is noticable.
I also own and sometimes carry an older(not +P rated) S&W model 36 and I use the Federal Nyclad rounds for defense ammo in both guns.
 

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I think you should decide on one gun to be your defensive weapon and concentrate on ammunition for it.
 
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