Firearms Tactical Institute

Personal Defense Ammunition
Performance Data

Page updated 19 May 1998.
Latest updates are published in teal.


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Introduction

Please read this page before you attempt to use the database. This page provides you critical information that is needed to interpret the data as we present it to you.

You are encouraged to follow the recommendations of the IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification Supplement for choosing personal defense ammunition.

Part I. Ammunition Manufacturer Products for 1998

Part I lists personal defense-type ammunition cartridges currently offered by the major U.S. ammunition manufacturers. The list was prepared from the manufacturer's 1998 ammunition product catalogs. (No catalog has been received from CCI-Speer for 1998 and the CCI-Speer listings are incomplete. These will be updated when the CCI-Speer 1998 catalog is received by us.) If you do not see a previously available cartridge listed, it probably has been discontinued by the manufacturer. Only currently available cartridges are listed here.

(Part III lists data for several cartridges which have been discontinued, such as the Winchester Black Talon, .38 Special 147 grain cartridges, and several others. We're well aware that many of you might have some of this discontinued ammunition and this information is of value to you. Also, we expect to see a flood of law enforcement only Winchester Ranger SXT [the law enforcement only version of Black Talon] on the civilian market as law enforcement agencies opt to purchase the newer Ranger Talon and distributors sell off their stocks of unwanted Ranger SXT ammunition to the civilian market. Therefore, if you do not see a cartridge listed in Part I, this doesn't mean that we haven't published data for it in the following sections.)

The products offered by each manufacturer are listed in table format. The tables list cartridges by weight in grains, manufacturer's proprietary cartridge name (if any) and type of bullet. Also included in each table are fields which indicate if there is any performance data from the following sources: 1) manufacturer, 2) FBI Ammunition Tests, or 3) other reliable sources. An "X" in one or more of these columns indicates that we've published this data in the appropriate sections that follow.

If we don't have any data that we feel is valid and reliable enough to share with you, the "None" column is marked with an "X". This simply indicates to you that we do not have this kind of data.

Our customer base is private citizens who keep a gun for home defense (handgun, shotgun, rifle) or are licensed to carry a concealed handgun in public. Thus the information we provide is geared toward private citizens and not law enforcement personnel. However, we're aware that many of our guests are law enforcement officers, and if we have product data for ammunition that is intended for the law enforcement market, we'll publish it. But we do not specifically request law enforcement only product data from the ammunition manufacturers. Be advised that our listings of law enforcement only products are incomplete and inconsistent.

Part II. Manufacturer's Performance Data

Part II lists data provided by the ammunition manufacturers that is meaningful in determining the suitability of a particular cartridge for personal defense use. The data is listed in table format with the cartridge identified in the table header. All data that is relevant to personal defense use is listed. Table fields marked with a "?" indicates that no data is available.

Part III. FBI Ammunition Tests Data

Part III contains the most recent test data available from the FBI for the cartridges listed. The penetration and expansion values listed are average values derived from 5 shot samples for each test event. The average results from FBI test event 1 (bare gelatin) and FBI test event 2 (Heavily clothed gelatin) are listed.

Care must be taken in interpreting this data, especially for some of the lighter-weight, high velocity cartridges. The bullets associated with these cartridges frequently exhibit excessive fragmentation. Fragmentation is not a desirable characteristic for personal defense ammunition, the reasons for which are described in detail on other pages of our web site. Cartridges which demonstrate fragmentation can usually be identified by comparing the penetration and expansion results between bare gelatin and clothed gelatin. Cartridges whose bullets break apart usually exhibit smaller expanded diameters and/or deeper penetration depths in bare gelatin than in clothed gelatin, which are performance characteristics that are opposite of what is normally observed. We're considering calculating and publishing standard deviation values for penetration and/or expansion as this would provide a much better indication of consistency of performance.

Also, much of this FBI data is old and obsolete. Although we've published data from as far back as 1989 for some cartridges, the validity of this data as it applies to present day generations of these cartridges is questionable. Data that is more than three or four years old might not be accurate due to unpublished manufacturer modifications. Data that is more than four years old should be considered suspect, and you are encouraged to contact the ammunition manufacturer directly to inquire if the FBI data accurately or reasonably reflects the performance of current ammunition. If not, you should request the new performance figures from the manufacturer.

In recent years, the FBI has changed from providing comprehensive test data to providing summary data. As a result, some data is not available and these fields are marked with a "?".

Additionally, there are multiple listings for some cartridges. While we've taken care to publish only the most recent test data for each cartridge, in some cases we believe the same generation of ammunition was tested more than once. There might be minor variations in velocity, test gun, barrel length, etc., that we feel would be of interest to you.

However, be advised that 1997/98 tests of CCI-Speer Gold Dot ammunition are of the most recent (newest) production design. Tests conducted prior to 1997 involve a previous generation. The new generation Gold Dot bullet can be visually distinguished by the presence of six serrations along the rim of the hollow cavity as well as a nickel-plated case, whereas the older generation Gold Dot bullets have eight serrations and a brass case.

This section lists data for some cartridges which have been discontinued (e.g., Black Talon, Ranger SXT, etc.). The data published is the latest performance data available for these cartridges and is valid to any ammunition of this type you might be in possession of.

Part IV. Other Performance Data

Part IV lists performance data from other reliable sources that have performed independent evaluation of personal defense ammunition. If the statement: "To be published," appears in this section, we have data to share with you and we'll publish it soon. Whereas, "None" means we have no additional information.

We expect Part IV to be the section that is updated most frequently, and we invite you to look here for new information from time to time.

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