Om March 10, Concealed Nation conducted a poll of their readers, asking about their favorite self-defense ammunition.
They then published a “top ten” list that will make your head hurt.
10. Sig Sauer V-Crown – 8 VOTES
09. Liberty Ultra Defense – 9 VOTES
08. Ruger PolyCase ARX – 10 VOTES
07. Winchester Black Talon – 16 VOTES
06. Remington Golden Saber – 18 VOTES
05. Hornady Critical Duty +P – 35 VOTES
04. Federal Hydra-Shock – 36 VOTES
03. Speer Gold Dot – 39 VOTES
02. Federal HST – 103 VOTES
01. Hornady Critical Defense – 225 VOTES
The Liberty Ultra Defense and Polycase ARX are just the latest in a long line of light-for-caliber, higher-than-normal-velocity handgun rounds that make big promises, but which fail to provide consistent performance.
The 16 idiots voting for Black Talon are talking about a now obsolete cartridge that hasn’t been made in decades (and though it was decent at the time, has far been surpassed by less controversial modern cartridges).
Sig’s V-Crown, Remington’s Golden Saber, Federal’s Hydra-Shok (which they couldn’t even spell correctly) and the “winning” Hornady Critical Defense are all subpar, “tier-two” cartridges that don’t perform nearly as well or as consistently as the #2 and #3 designs on the list, Speer’s Gold Dot and Federal’s HSTs. You’ll note that the Gold Dot and HSTs are also the cartridges most frequently selected by law enforcement officers and higher-end defensive firearms instructors who both read a lot of ballistics research and conduct their own tests.
We call this a “clue.”
So why were more than half of the nearly 500 people who responded to the poll saying that they preferred cartridges that simply don’t function as well as they should in a product your life might depend upon?
Like in so many areas of life, price points, availability, and marketing matter.
If something sounds new or cool, (Ultra Defense, the polymer-copper blended ARX, the laughable G2 R.I.P.), less astute people are going to buy into the marketing hype and buy that cartridge because they’re easily influenced. Others are going to go with name brands and cost, which makes more sense in most areas of life. Hornady makes really good ammunition for a wide range of firearms, and offers the Critical Defense at a good price point and are easy to find in most places, so it’s popular. Like the Golden Saber, Hydra-Shok, and V-Crown, it’s also probably “good enough” for most applications.
But is a “good enough” decision what you want on something as important as a bullet you may have to rely on during the Worst Moment Of Your Life? I’d argue that the protection of your life is one area where cutting corners to save pennies or a few dollars is a horrible idea.
Comparatively few gun owners are deeply driven by data, but that’s where agency decisions are made. Government agencies must be able to defend their selection of ammunition based upon performance, and that’s why the Gold Dot and HST are dominant in law enforcement and among defensive firearms instructors and serious hobbyists.
But maybe we should be fair to Concealed Nation, and note that they didn’t conduct a poll of the “best” self-defense ammunition, just their reader’s “favorites.”