Best Handgun Ammo for Self-Defense in Common Calibers
Sam Jacobs 
Website: Ammo.com
Blog: The Resistance Library
Date: 05-24-2024
Subject: Gun Rights

Choosing the best handgun ammo depends on the caliber you're using and your circumstances.

I primarily use my handguns for personal defense and target shooting, so that's what we'll focus on in this article.

The four most significant factors I focus on to determine the best are price, bullet weight, muzzle velocity, and muzzle energy.

However, there are other contributing factors, such as brand credibility and functionality.

Let's get started!

How to Choose the Best Round for Self-Defense

Choosing the best handgun caliber for self-defense is critical. You need a firearm you're comfortable with and trust.

Next comes choosing the best self-defense round. Many shooters judge it based on the brand or bullet type, which are critical considerations. However, I believe the price, stopping power, amount of recoil, and firearm preferences are the most important.


It's important to stick within your budget. Self-defense ammo is expensive, and it's easy to spend a lot of money training with it,
so be sure to find ammo well within your budget.

I splurge a little in this area because I don't always train with my personal defense ammo; instead, I use rounds similar in ballistics and save my expensive ammo for the moments I need it.

Stopping Power

If your ammo doesn't have the power to stop a threat, then I don't think it's worthy of being called self-defense ammo.

I want the rounds that will stop the threat as fast as possible. If a bad guy or something intends to harm my loved ones or me, I don't want to give them any more time than I have to to stop them.

The downside to increased stopping power is often increased recoil. However, bullet type also plays a significant role in stopping power.


Self-defense rounds are known for increased recoil to achieve the ballistics needed to end a threat quickly.

Find a round that you're comfortable with the amount of recoil. It's better to be more accurate and comfortable with your firearm than have a powerful gun you're inaccurate with and scared to pull the trigger because of the kick.


The last thing you should consider is what ammo your gun prefers. I've found my guns cycle certain brands better than others. For instance, your Ruger will cycle the same Hornady Critical Duty ammo differently than someone else's Glock, which cycles it differently than another person's Sig Sauer.

I don't want to be forced to clear a jam in an intense home defense situation, though I might train for it. That's why I tested out several different brands, bullet types, and weights to see which one I was most accurate with, and my gun cycled the best. Then I trusted the test results and currently use the ammo that performed the best.

Learn more about choosing the best handgun ammo for self-defense here.