There are many factors to consider when choosing ammunition. Recoil, control in the individual handgun, a clean powder burn, good bullet pull, limited muzzle blast and flash, and reasonable accuracy are important.
A loading with a balance of expansion and penetration is desirable for personal defense use. The term repeatable and verifiable are heard often. Studies of so-called street results have little value compared to lab testing, although these results are worth study and may be interesting.
Recently, I tested a pair of .40 Smith and Wesson loads from DoubleTap Ammunition. DoubleTap has earned a well-deserved reputation for quality control and maximizing the individual calibers it loads. From .38 Special to .45 ACP, I have tested a number of these loads and found them well thought out and ballistically impressive.
One of my favorite go-anywhere do-anything handguns is the Glock 22. With an impressive magazine capacity, excellent reliability, and good wound potential, I often travel with this handgun. A simple magazine change makes the pistol suitable for home defense, trail use or even hunting. I have taken thin-skinned game with the .40 S&W as a matter of opportunity, and it was one shot and four legs in the air at modest range.
The first load is a 150-grain JHP. This bullet is intended to fragment and produce modest penetration while expending all of its energy in the target. The 1,280 fps velocity surprised me. This is fast, very fast, and the energy is 545 ft lbs. While actual damage is more important than paper energy, the water jugs were hustled about by this load. Penetration is at about 14 inches in water, and the bullet fragments leaving a .55-inch core.
Next is the 180-grain Bonded Core. This bullet, by any other name, is the Speer Gold Dot. The Gold Dot has proven to be one of the most popular law enforcement loads and with good reason. This load breaks 1,040 fps from the Glock 22. This rates the load at 432 ft lbs. of energy.
This is a bit faster than most factory 180-grain loads. The 180-grain JHP expands to an average of .94 inch, with some reaching .99 inch and others .92 inch. Yes, that is almost an inch of expansion and the bullet drives a solid eighteen inches in water, stopping on the wall of the third water jug. It isn’t difficult to control this loading.
DoubleTap has neatly bracketed the fragmenting loads and deeper penetrating heavy bullet loads. The 150-grain load generates the most recoil as might be expected with a power factor of 192 while the 180-grain load has a power factor of 187. The 150-grain load is at the high end of what most of us would find acceptable in the relatively light Glock pistol.
This load had plenty of power for home defense and is a solid choice for the majority of personal defense situations. I plan for the worst-case situation and find the 180-grain load appealing for personal protection against both two and four legged threats. Both loads are more than accurate enough for personal defense with the average 15-yard groups under two inches for five shots. These loads maximize the .40 S&W cartridge, a caliber I find superior to the small bores and effective in the field.
Have you used DoubleTap Ammunition? What were your results? Which caliber do you prefer for self-defense? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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