Hornady’s .357 Magnum Critical Defense Load – Quick Ammo Review

Combine the legendary stopping power of the .357 Magnum with modern bullet design and you can potentially create an amazingly effective self-defense round. That seems to be exactly what Hornady had in mind when it developed the Critical Defense load chambered for the classic Magnum.


Hornady Rapid Safe Review

Hornady Radid Safe with gun

Freedom is balanced by responsibility. Nowhere is this more obvious than within the firearms community. Gun owners learn safety rules and they are rigorously enforced by range officers and fellow shooters alike.

Securing firearms when not in use is a responsibility that most gun owners take very seriously. Even so, there is the occasional, well-publicized tragedy where a child obtains a firearm and an innocent is harmed or killed.

With the Rapid Safe, Hornady addresses one of the major dilemmas that all gun owners face: the balancing act between quick access in an emergency with secure storage at all other times. In this review, I take a look at the handgun storage device and highlight its strengths and weaknesses.


Hornady Security: RAPiD Safe

Hornady Security RAPiD safe

The RAPiD Safe is the first product introduced by Hornady Security, a new division of Hornady Manufacturing (the bullet people.)  The safe addresses the issue of quickly accessing a firearm if needed, yet keeping the gun secure if it is not.

There are a variety of products on the market that use a mechanical or electronic keypad, a key, a fingerprint reader, traditional keys or some combination of the above.  Each has weaknesses:  keypads can be difficult to operate under stress, electronic keypads often “beep,” fingerprint readers are not 100% reliable, and keys can be hard to find and use in the dark.  Hornady Security’s RFID (radio frequency ID) solution may be an excellent solution to the problem.


Hornady .38 Special Critical Defense Lite Ammo

Critical Defense Recoil

For 2013, Hornady is introducing a reduced recoil .38 Special load in the Critical Defense line of ammunition.  The Critical Defense Lite is a light weight .38 load loaded to standard pressures specifically designed to minimize abuse to the shooters of small, light revolvers.

Seemingly everyone carries a snub nose revolver in their pocket.  I’ve got a J-frame Smith & Wesson in mine as I write this.  They are easy to carry and have numerous advantages when compared to other guns and style of carry.  But, small revolvers carry at least one significant disadvantage:  recoil.  That’s where the Critical Defense Lite comes into play.


Critical Defense .32 NAA Ammo

Hornady .32 NAA ammunition

Ammo for the .32 NAA has been very limited, with very few companies loading for the niche cartridge.  However, Hornady is expanding their Critical Defense line of ammunition to include a .32 NAA load.

The new .32 NAA ammo will feature the Hornady FTX bullet, which is a hollowpoint tipped with a polymer insert.  The polymer helps to prevent hard materials from clogging up the hollowpoint cavity, and also helps the bullet expand when encountering flesh.  The FTX design has proved to be both effective and popular.

The load uses an 80 grain bullet that makes a respectable 1000 fps at the muzzle for 178 ft-lbs of energy.  MSRP is $25.85 for a box of 25 cartridges.

The .32 NAA cartridge is a design developed by North American Arms (NAA) with gun writer Ed Sanow and ammunition manufacturer Corbon.  NAA is known for their mini-revolvers, but the company also makes semi-auto pistols that fall into the pocket gun category.

Hornady .32 NAA ammo

The .32 NAA is a necked down .380 ACP case loaded with a .32-caliber bullet (closer to 0.31″ actually).  The idea is to obtain velocities higher than either the .32 ACP or .380 ACP can manage, plus gain the additional reliability that bottlenecked cartridges seem to have.

Original tests of Corbon loaded ammo used a 60 grain Hornady JHP which made more than 1450 fps from a 4″ test barrel.  From an NAA Guardian pistol with a 2.49″ barrel, the same load made 1222 fps.

Before the addition of the .32 NAA to the Critical Defense line, I believe Corbon has been the only significant company loading ammo in this caliber.  Currently, Corbon offers the original 60 grain JHP rated for 1200 fps.  They also make a 71 grain FMJ in their match line (1000 fps) and a 55 grain frangible load in the Glaser line (1250 fps).