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Having the right ammo is just as important as having the right gun when it comes to self-defense. Defending yourself or those you love from threats is something that you should take zero chances with: So why would you compromise on what kind of ammo you use?

You may have the perfect personal self-defense gun, but a gun is merely a tool to launch your ammo in the first place. It all starts with having the right kind of ammunition. There is heated debate in the firearm community about what kind of ammo works best. This is a range of the absolute best choices so you can decide for yourself.

Hornady Critical Duty 9mm Luger

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Get This: Hornady Critical Duty 9mm Luger

  • Positive penetration
  • Fast
  • Trusted by law enforcement

Trusted by law enforcement and tactical experts, this ammunition option is your best bet when it comes to repelling dangers to yourself and others.

Best Self-Defense Ammo Out in the Market Today

Top 7 Best Self-Defense Ammo: What to Shoot For

1. Hornady Critical Duty 9mm Luger: Best Overall Self Defense Ammo

Adopted by the FBI as their official on duty round, you can rest assured that this ammunition option has been vetted and tested by the best of the best. If it’s good enough for the top cops in the nation, it will serve you well as a prepared civilian.

Muzzle velocity is precise and consistent with this round, continually impressing gun owners with its top-class reliability. As for penetration, Hornady Critical Duty rips through 18-inches of gel, which is close to the very top of the FBI’s penetration standards.

Further improving this already fantastic ammo option is that every hollow point round is filled with a small plastic fiber that accelerates expansion as the round passes into soft tissue. What results is a more stable round that gets the job done.

This technical design choice also allows for greater hard surface penetration, allowing you to shoot through doors or glass if need be and still achieve great muzzle velocity. Exiting your gun at 1,110 feet per second, this self-defense ammo absolutely rips, giving you the best chance of exiting a confrontation alive.


  • Positive penetration
  • Fast
  • Trusted by law enforcement


  • Snappy recoil

2. Federal Premium Personal Defense 147 Grain: Best 9mm Self-Defense Ammo

It is widely agreed that 9mm is the best caliber for self-defense ammunition. This is because 9mm typically generates a more comfortable recoil and still maintains positive penetration stats.

That’s why for overall self-defense, Federal Premium Personal Self-Defense has to be recommended. It is a very generic and straight forward round. It just gets the job done.

This bullet is slightly heavier than some other 9mm rounds, giving it excellent terminal performance. If you prefer heavier rounds, this gun is for you. Despite being slightly heavier, this ammunition option does surprisingly well at minimizing recoil.

This ammunition achieves a bullet penetration of 15-inches, which is pretty decent. What’s so impressive about this round is how it maintains excellent terminal performance even with its relatively tame muzzle velocity. The nickel-plated casing also provides reliable expansion and reliability.


  • Terminal performance
  • Heavier round
  • Tame recoil


  • Slower

3. American Eagle 230 Grain FMJ: Best .45 ACP Ammo For Self-Defense

American Eagle has been dutifully serving the firearm community by offering ammo for affordable prices without sacrificing quality in the slightest. It is an incredibly reliable brand that doesn’t break the bank. It is also so evident that a lot of care is put into the production of these rounds.

Before packaging, each bullet is polished to be gleaming and ready to fire, signaling to any gun owner that they have gotten their money’s worth. It is very telling and communicates professionalism that has made American Eagle very respected in the firearm community.

American Eagle rounds are also decently quick when compared to other .45 ACP ammo options. The muzzle velocity generated from this round is 890 feet per second. This ammo option is also an FMJ ammo type or full metal jacket.

An FMJ bullet prevents lead from being deposited into the chamber upon firing and also provides increased bullet penetration. With an FMJ round, you can also fire off more shots in a row consistently before accuracy degrades.


  • Full metal jacket
  • Affordable
  • Quality


  • Pretty heavy

4. CCI Copper: Best .22LR Ammo For Self-Defense

The .22LR ammunition provides incredibly fast muzzle velocities, and one of the fastest is CCI Copper rounds. With a maximum velocity of 1,850 feet per second, this is a lightning-fast round that will reach your assailant before they have time to react at all.

Part of what makes this round so quick is that it is incredibly lightweight because of its copper build. Weighing in at a total of 21 grains, this bullet just whizzes through the air smoothly. The compressed injection molded copper polymer build is sturdy and efficient. This type of round also provides excellent accuracy because the recoil is so light.

Across 100 yards, the bullet flies completely straight, making it a very reliable ammo choice as well. Overall, this bullet is great for younger or elderly shooters, as it is a very manageable ammunition choice and still serves up the reliability that gun owners demand when talking about self-defense. This round can also double as a great small game hunting round.


  • Incredibly quick
  • Lightweight
  • Accurate


  • Decreased penetration

5. Black Hills Ammunition: Best 5.56 Ammo For Self-Defense

This 5.56 NATO Ammo is a great choice for an AR-15 style rifle, which is one of the most effective home defense weapons available. Designed for optimal accuracy and performance, any confrontation across a midrange distance will end poorly for your opposition.

Black Hills ammunition is very commendable for its bullet expansion upon contact, making for a more reliable bullet, as well as ensuring that wounds will keep your assailant down for the count.

The hard-hitting 77-grain loads contain powerful stopping power, which is essential in self- and home-defense scenarios. If the first shot doesn’t finish the job, it will certainly incapacitate your foe long enough for you to get away and call the authorities.


  • Powerful
  • Very Accurate
  • Great for mid-range combat


  • Not optimized for everyday carry

6. Sellier & Bellot: Best .38 Special Ammo For Self-Defense

The .38 Special Ammo is optimal for small snub-nosed personal self-defense revolvers. If this is the type of firepower that you prefer, you should consider using Sellier & Bellot rounds.

A lesser-known name brand bullet manufacturer, Sellier & Bellot is still an incredibly high-quality and high-performance ammunition option. What’s great about their .38 Special Ammo is that it is incredibly hard-hitting, weighing a total of 158 grains. At close range, there are not many other things aside from a shotgun shell that would be worse to get hit by.

Although this ammunition doesn’t have the best muzzle velocity and therefore isn’t recommended for long distances, penetration is very effective. This round can produce penetration over 18-inches, making it a very punishing round for any hostiles that end up on the wrong end of your personal protection revolver.

Optimal for home protection and checking tight corners, or keeping close to your person, this round also features decent spread, further solidifying its brutal power.


  • Awesome power
  • Great penetration
  • Heavier round


  • Not very effective past close range

7. Winchester Super X 64 Grain: Best .223 Ammo For Self-Defense

Arguably the best caliber for AR-15 style rifles, .223 ammunition is favored by many in the firearm community and lauded for its incredible spread that is virtually unmatched by other calibers. Winchester, one of the most respected names in the gun world, manufacturers fantastic .223 ammunition, the pinnacle being their Super X 64 Grain round.

Providing excellent velocity and deftly balancing punishing power and terminal performance, this round shoots beautifully and effectively, ensuring that your safety and the safety of your family is fiercely protected.

One thing that makes this Winchester round special is its implementation of Split Core technology. Split Core causes the bullet to expand in the front but stay intact in the rear, rocketing the projectile forward and causing maximum damage while still achieving excellent spread.

Featuring an insane muzzle velocity of 3,020, this ammunition is the ultimate in property defense ammunition options. Able to take down big game like bears, this round should have no trouble warding off threats.


  • Jaw-dropping speed
  • Split Core technology
  • Powerful


  • Not optimal for everyday carry

Self-Defense Ammo Best Suited for Rifles and Pistols

While all these options are fantastic self-defense choices, one ammunition option really rises to the occasion on multiple fronts. While the Winchester Super X provides incredible power and muzzle velocity, AR-15 rifles are not the best for everyday carry, which is super important for self-defense purposes.

Hornady Critical Duty 9mm Luger

Hornady Critical Duty 9mm Luger

That’s why the ultimate self-defense ammunition option is the Hornady Critical Duty 9mm Luger. The 9mm is the undisputed best self-defense round available on the market, and no one does it better than Hornady.

Offering fantastic penetration at 18-inches and impressive muzzle velocity, Hornady delivers exactly what you want from respectable self-defense ammunition, while also delivering these qualities in an easy-to-manage 9mm package.