Best New Self-Defense Ammo

New ammo offerings highlight innovation in the self-defense market.

Best New Self-Defense Ammo

More and more Americans are buying firearms for defense of themselves and their families. That’s easy to see with record gun sales in both 2020 and 2021, many of them by first-time firearm purchasers seeking a sure way to protect themselves. 

With this increase has come a big jump in the number of guns from various companies designed with self-defense as their central purpose. Many models, both big and small, are meeting the needs of those looking for a firearm for defense of home, family and for concealed carry, which has also greatly expanded in the past few years. 

As these guns get better and better, so does the ammunition made specifically for self-defense purposes, and 2023 is no exception to that rule. Let’s take a brief look at a dozen new offerings available on the self-defense ammo market this year.


Aguila might be better known for its line of budget pistol ammunition, but the company has successfully jumped into the self-defense market this year with its new Hollow Point Pistol line of ammo. 

According to the maker, “Our centerfire pistol ammunition lineup was conceived with a singular mission — reliability. Feeding, chambering, ignition, extraction, velocity, accuracy, expansion, retained mass … this is what we mean when we talk about reliability. Reliability builds confidence, whether in training or in the crucial moments of personal defense, and confidence is our commitment to you.” 

The new Hollow Point loads are available in a number of chamberings, including .45 ACP, .380 ACP, .38 Spl., .357 Mag., .40 S&W and 10mm Auto, along with two 9mm offerings.


The new Pioneer line of defense ammo by Barnes is optimized for revolvers and lever-action rifles whether at home or in the wilderness. Designed with Barnes’ solid copper bullets, this ammo is carefully loaded for terminal performance and delivers massive expansion and weight retention for deeper penetration. 

According to the company, each round is engineered for flawless feeding and cycling from tubular magazine to chamber for lightning-fast follow-up shots. Lever gun rounds in the new line include .30-30 Winchester and .45-70 Gov’t. Revolver rounds in the new line include .45 Colt and .357 Magnum.  

Black Hills

Black Hills’ HoneyBadger 10mm is the first of three new offerings highlighted here in this ever-more-popular cartridge for defense from both two-legged and four-legged threats. According to the manufacturer, the sharp frontal edges of the solid copper bullet enhance efficient penetration, the flutes then gather, redirect and accelerate the tissue radially from the bullet, creating damage comparable or superior to the best hollow-point bullet. 

The 10mm HoneyBadger features a 115-grain, deeply fluted bullet that is light for caliber and speeds along at about 1,600 feet per second out of a 5-inch handgun barrel. Penetration in ballistic gel is over 50% greater than hollow points while generating larger wound cavities. That’s going to equal ample stopping power whether in the woods or mean streets.


Remington has added to its Golden Saber Defense line this year with another fine 10mm load created for defensive use. The Defense 10mm, like the rest of the line, features an unbonded bullet to reduce the chance of overpenetration. 

The round is loaded in a nickel-plated case for improved feeding, and uses specially treated powders to suppress muzzle flash. The case mouth and primer are waterproofed for maximum reliability, and the bullet’s exclusive brass jacket features precision nose cuts to control expansion and optimize energy transfer. 

Of course, Golden Saber Defense is also available in a number of other cartridges suited for self-defense purposes.


Winchester’s new 10mm Auto defensive load is an addition to the company’s popular USA Ready line. And it has some distinct differences from many of the other defense loads on the market. 

The bullet’s red Hex-Vent rigid insert shields the hollow point from obstruction while channeling material flow for positive bullet expansion. Plus, the match-grade primer is built to exacting specifications for trusted reliability. The 10mm’s 200-grain bullet leaves the barrel at a velocity of 1,000 fps and carries about 444 ft./lbs. of energy at the muzzle. 

Unlike bullets from many other manufacturers, the 10mm USA Ready line is lot controlled, with the ballistic data from each lot published on Winchester’s website.

Federal Premium

Two companies have launched self-defense loads this year for guns shooting the revolutionary 30 Super Carry cartridge, which was just introduced by Federal last year. Federal Premium’s new offering is the Punch 30 Super Carry, an extension of the company’s popular Punch lineup.= 

Designed to prevent over-penetration, Punch uses a rapid-expanding 103-grain hollow-point bullet. In the manufacturer’s words: “Federal engineers designed both Punch ammunition and the new 30 Super Carry cartridge from the ground up for self-defense, and the two have come together in a load that’s far easier to shoot effectively. The blending of the two technologies gives shooters an extremely easy-to-shoot and effective option for real-world defense.”


Hornady has also introduced another high-quality self-defense load for the 30 Super Carry. The company’s new Critical Defense ammo in 30 Super Carry uses a 100-grain Critical Defense bullet to resist clogging the hollow point upon impact. 

Performance is on par with what you would expect from the ammo experts at Hornady. The bullet leaves the muzzle at 1,250 fps and carries a muzzle energy of 347 fpe. And like all Critical Defense ammo, the 30 Super Carry is loaded in nickel-plated cases using premium low-flash propellants to deliver proven performance even in very short-barreled handguns while not disrupting the shooter’s vision.


For revolver lovers, the .357 Magnum is the most popular self-defense cartridge, and manufacturers continue to feed that demand. First up is Doubletap Ammunition with a new 140-grain load designed for defensive purposes, falling in between its already available 125- and 158-grain loads. 

The round uses Doubletap’s effective solid copper hollow-point bullet. With the mid-weight slug, recoil is reduced over the heavier load, but the bullet still has plenty of downrange punch.  And since the bullets are completely lead free, they can be used in areas where lead bullets are prohibited. 


Freedom Munitions also got in on the .357 Magnum offerings with their new round. It features a copper-plated, 125-grain bullet that offers reliable expansion and unparalleled downrange energy, all for an affordable price.    

This .357 Magnum bullet travels at a velocity of 1,575 fps out of an 8-inch-barreled revolver, and the maker says it penetrates 13 to 15 inches in clear ballistic gelatin. With at least 99% weight retention, Freedom touts the X-DEF as one of the best performing personal defense projectiles available today. And since Freedom sells the rounds in 50-packs for about the same price as others sell 20 or 25 rounds, they’re a great deal for buyers.


While maybe not quite as common a name as Federal or Winchester, Liberty Ammunition, founded in 2005, touts itself as the leader in self-defense ammunition designed to rupture on impact. The company’s new Overwatch line is no exception to that rule. The new ammo is lighter to carry and faster to the target, and according to the maker: “The most effective self-defense round for civilians. The cavity design and high speed create a hydrostatic event that stops the threat immediately.” 

Overwatch loads are available in 9mm, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum, 300 Blackout, 10mm and .223 Remington. The 9mm load features a 72-grain bullet leaving the muzzle at about 1,700 fps, while the .45 ACP offering has a 105-grain bullet that leaves the barrel at 1,600 fps.


If you haven’t heard of Underwood Ammunition, you haven’t been listening over the past few years. Underwood’s new Platinum Line consists of high-quality defensive ammo made to exacting specifications for top performance. 

The Platinum Line features the Xtreme Defender monolithic bullet, which is treated with a dry film lubricant to resist corrosion, improve feeding and reduce barrel wear. According to the maker, the round offers a permanent wound cavity that is two times greater than any expanding bullet. It also features reduced recoil, radial flutes that force the hydraulic energy inward, and minimal surface area to increase the force at the point of contact. It’s available in .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W and 10mm Auto chamberings. The 9mm load features a 90-grain bullet with a published velocity of 1,475 fps, while the .45 ACP load has a 135-grain bullet that leaves the barrel at 1,240 fps.


Not everyone prefers a handgun for self-defense, as attested by the high sales of modern sporting rifles over the past few years. For those customers who choose pistol-caliber carbines for defending home and hearth, Speer’s Gold Dot G2 Carbine round has lots of good selling points. 

Speer’s Gold Dot bullets have long been a top performer for defensive situations when shot through handgun-length barrels. This 135-grain hollow-point bullet is optimized for shooting out of longer barrels, delivering more punch downrange. Instead of a large hollow-point cavity, Gold Dot G2 has a shallow dish filled with a high-performance elastomer. On impact, the material is forced into engineered internal fissures to start the expansion process.


Building Inventory

This listing of new self-defense rounds — far from an exhaustive one, to be sure — should leave little doubt that there are plenty of new, high-quality offerings to market to your customers this year. And that’s exciting, given the problems with ammo supply and demand the past couple of years. 

Which ones should you choose to put on your ammo shelves? Well, you know your customers better than anyone else. Use that knowledge to make a profitable decision when building your self-defense ammo inventory.


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