Choosing the Right Bullet for Concealed Carry

Choosing the Right Bullet for Concealed Carry

When it comes to concealed carry, picking a pistol or a revolver that fits your hand is extremely important, as is picking a handgun that you can shoot accurately. But once you get the right gun, you have to have the right bullet if you are serious about being able to defend your life.

So how do you pick the right bullet?

For starters, ammunition manufacturers make ammo in almost every caliber that is specifically designed for self-defense. The bullets in these rounds are almost always a type of hollow-point, which means the bullet expands instead of collapses as it strikes flesh and bone. 

Put simply–these bullets typically do more damage than standard, round-nosed bullets once they enter the body. And for many calibers, like the 9mm, this increases the odds of one-shot stopping power.

These self-defense rounds typically come in plus-P as well. This means there are added pressures that increase the velocity of these bullets when compared to standard bullets in the same caliber. Thus, self-defense rounds in 9mm with hollow points and plus-P velocities are formidable–and a very popular choice because the recoil is so manageable. 

When choosing such self-defense rounds, proven products are Hornady Critical Defense, Federal Premium Hydra-Shok, Remington Golden Saber, and Speer Gold Dot Ammunition.

If you carry a .45 for concealed carry, you need to remember that the strength of that round is that it’s a large bullet moving slow–so it hits hard and moves things when it finds flesh and bone. That means when you buy self-defense ammo in this round, it’s wise to buy a heavy bullet. 

The weight of a bullet is listed in “grains,” and plus-P .45 with a 200 grain bullet, or an even heavier 230 grain non plus-P, is a great choice.

As you come down in caliber from a .45 to .40 or 9mm, velocity gets much higher. But it’s still wise to look for a heavier bullet because the right ratio of weight to velocity is what gets the job done. For example, a great self-defense round for .40 is a 165 or 175 grain bullet. For 9mm, a plus-P 135 grain bullet is great. Such weights in these ammo designs give you penetration plus impact. 

On some rounds, like the .357 magnum, there is so much overwhelming force from even standard rounds that I don’t bother buying self-defense rounds in this caliber. Instead, I buy standard, round-nose bullets for my .357 revolver–flat-nosed bullets if I can find them–and I buy them in the heaviest grain I can find. This way, I get the double benefit of coupling the bullet’s weight with an already significant velocity. 

There are myriad studies on which combination of weight and velocity makes for the best self-defense ammo in various calibers. But for those of you just now buying your first handgun for concealed carry, the information in this post should help you get started on the right foot.