Hornady Critical Defense Ammunition: “Purpose Built for Concealed Carry Guns”

Hornady Critical Defense 357 Magnum Review

Hornady Manufacturing recently announced a new line of personal protection ammunition: Critical Defense.  The Critical Defense line of ammo is specially designed for small, compact firearms frequently carried concealed for self-defense.

The Critical Defense ammunition features a hollow point bullet the same style of “Flex Tip” polymer tip that Hornady uses in the LEVERevolution line of ammunition.  The tip prevents the hollowpoint from being plugged with clothing and helps ensure expansion.  Because of the Flex Tip technology, Hornady claims to achieve “100% reliable expansion every single time.”  Subsequent gel testing by independent parties seems to support this claim.

The new Hornady ammo is not designed to meet the FBI test protocols used by some law enforcement agencies when choosing ammunition.  Rather, Critical Defense ammunition is designed to operate in small, concealed carry guns against clothed attackers–not through steel and glass as required by the FBI testing.  For ammo that meets FBI protocols, scroll down this page for information on the company’s new Critical Duty line of ammo.


.327 Federal Magnum A Viable Self Defense Caliber?

Ever since Ruger and Federal introduced the .327 Federal Magnum in November of 2007, I have been intrigued by the potential of this caliber.  Granted, any new firearm caliber has a serious uphill battle to be accepted by the general shooting public.  But, the .32 has been around and used for self-defense since the 1800s.  Let’s be honest…the .32 has never been known as a “man-stopper,” but is has had a small portion of the firearms market. Could the .327 Federal Magnum make the .32 a serious self-defense caliber?

After Ruger’s introduction of the SP101 chambered for the new cartridge, Charter Arms released the Patriot series of revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum. In the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of American Handgunner, John Taffin tested the Patriot and gave his opinions on the gun and caliber.  Out of the 2.2″ barrel on the Patriot, the 115 grain Speer Gold Dot was smoking along at about 1230 fps for more than 385 foot-pounds of energy.  The milder-recoiling 85 grain Federal JHP was in the 1220s with more than 280 ft-lbs of energy.

Those are respectable numbers for a self-defense firearm, especially when you consider they are coming out of a 2.2″ barrel.  In a short carbine, I imagine the .327 could be a fantastic small game gun.

To my knowledge, no one has been forced to use a .327 Federal Magnum in a self-defense shooting.  Without a stack of positive results from “the street,” I’m hesitant to recommend this caliber.  However, if you prefer a .32 caliber firearm, the .327 is a vast improvement over the .32 H&R Magnum and its predecessors.  With speeds in the 1200’s, the bullet will expand after striking, unlike the bullets out of the weaker .32’s.

Update – Speer added another Gold Dot load for this cartridge. The new load uses a 100-grain bullet that is rated at a blistering 1,500 fps. This is exceptionally fast. I would imagine that this load in a lever-action rifle would be incredible. It should be more than adequate to provide for home defense and could even be a decent combination for taking small to medium size game.

Another Update – Ruger no longer makes the SP101 with a 3″ barrel for this cartridge. They do make the gun with a 4.2″ barrel for it now. While you get the benefit of additional velocity, I wonder how much harder it is to conceal the gun. In an IWB, it should not be a problem. However, in an outside the waistband rig, the extra barrel length may be visible from under a short jacket.

Self-Defense Issues

Don’t Quit Before The Battle Is Won: A Sad Self-Defense Story

smith & wesson 642In Largo, Florida in 2002, an 88-year-old man and his 86-year-old wife were attacked in a daytime home invasion style robbery. The couple was attacked in their condo by a 19-year-old convicted drug dealer as they returned from a nearby supermarket.

The 88-year-old victim was able to retrieve his .38 Special revolver (loaded with +P hollow points) and placed two well aimed shots on the attacker. The first shot hit the convicted felon in the face. As the attacker fell, the second shot struck him center mass in the back.

With the criminal down, the homeowner set his revolver down and turned to call 911. Police arrived three minutes later. When the officers arrived, they discovered that the would-be robber had gotten up, taken the gun the elderly man had set down, and murdered the man with a single gunshot to the head. Police apprehended the murderer on scene, as his bleeding had rendered him semi-conscious by this time.