February 1, 2023

Newest Personal Defense Ammo from SHOT Show 2023


With the historic Bruen Decision easing concealed carry laws across the land, naturally, demand for defensive ammunition went through the roof. Between a resurgence of 10mm Auto and a new interest in ammo that can defend against furry foes, the 2023 NSSF Shot Show was ablaze with new offerings. So, I hustled through miles of displays to get a look at the latest the industry has to offer. Here are my top 21 overall picks for personal defense ammo for 2023.

Personal Defense Ammo for 2023

Underwood – Platinum Line

Underwood - Platinum Line.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended a search for an exotic cartridge with the words, “Oh, Underwood makes it.”

Underwood started as a small-batch boutique ammo company. Since then, it has blossomed into a full-service cartridge company. Now, the company loads the finest components into a product that I am always pleased with.

New for 2023 is its Platinum line. Specifically, the Platinum line features the Xtreme Defender bullet, now treated with a dry-film lubricant that resists corrosion and improves feeding. This monolithic design produces a permanent wound channel that is larger than any hollow point on the market and shrugs off the toughest barriers, including auto glass. It is currently available in .380 ACP9mm Luger, 40 S&W, and 10mm Auto.

For more information, please visit UnderwoodAmmo.com.

Lehigh Defense – Xtreme Defense 10mm

Lehigh Defense – Xtreme Defense 10mm.

Just over a year ago, Wilson Combat purchased Lehigh Defense to expand its ammunition operations. The solid copper bullets produce enhanced terminal performance and fit nicely into the Wilson Combat profile.

With more and more 10mm pistols making their way onto the market, it’s gaining ground as a leading defensive round. This is largely due to the solid compromise between power and controllability. The marriage of straight up 563 ft-lbs. of stopping power at 1,300 fps, with relatively fast follow up, makes the Lehigh Defense 10mm a winner. While it has more recoil than 9mm, it is still manageable.

For more information, please visit ShopWilsonCombat.com.

Lehigh Defense – Xtreme Penetrator 9mm

Lehigh Defense – Xtreme Penetrator 9mm.

The 9mm is a tried-and-true round for self-defense, remaining popular with many today. Although it might not be ideal for large four-legged predators, it is certainly ample for the two-legged variety. Although, I wouldn’t discount it for small to medium varmints.

The Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator features radial flutes on the nose, which force the hydraulic energy inward. Then, as the energy is restricted, it accelerates outward, creating high-pressure spikes, severely damaging surrounding tissue. Like a hollow point, the round creates a permanent wound cavity and massive tissue damage away from the projectile. Not to mention the 309 ft-lbs. of energy at 1,100 fps will stop an attacker in his tracks.

For more information, please visit ShopWilsonCombat.com.

Winchester – Big Bore

Winchester - Big Bore: Personal Defense Ammo.

I don’t ever enter the woods unarmed, even if I’m not hunting. Once upon a time, a hiking companion asked me why I “needed” a gun for a particular trek. To which I answered, “bears and rapists.”The great trails of this continent shelter not only wildlife but those looking to disappear from authorities.

Winchester’s Big Bore line is ideal for either threat. Its controlled-expansion jacketed soft point bullets expand rapidly enough for two-legged attackers but penetrate deep enough for the four-legged variety. This makes it ideal for the trail. It’s currently available in .357 Mag..44 Mag., 10mm Auto, and .45 Colt.

For more information, please visit Winchester.com.

Winchester – USA Ready Defense 10mm Auto

Winchester – USA Ready Defense 10mm Auto.

Col. Jeff Cooper conceived the 10mm Auto Cartridge right on the firing line of Gunsite Academy. The only problem was that his idea was a few decades ahead of its time. This is because gun makers hadn’t figured out a way to tame it yet. Now with dozens of easy-to-handle options on the market, the 10mm is thriving, pushing .40 S&W into obsolescence.

Answering the call for more personal defense ammo is Winchester with this extension to its USA Ready Defense line. Featuring a 170-grain hex-vent bullet, this ammunition hits hard and resists clogging for rapid expansion.

For more information, please visit Winchester.com.

Federal – PUNCH .30 Super Carry

Federal - PUNCH .30 Super Carry: Personal Defense Ammo.

As the creators of this cartridge, I was surprised PUNCH wasn’t an initial offering. However, with what was going on in the ammo market during its release, I give the Minnesota boys a pass.

PUNCH is ammunition intended for civilian concealed carry and trades barrier-defeating properties for rapid expansion, reducing the chances of overpenetration. This also provides a cost-saving effect making it close in price to common practice ammo. Loaded with 103-grain jacketed hollow point projectiles, this latest addition balances zip and penetration without generating excessive recoil.

For more information, please visit FederalPremium.com.

Federal – Train + Protect 10mm Auto

Federal - Train + Protect 10mm Auto.

Range trips typically start with unloading your carry personal defense ammo, shooting a whole bunch of FMJ, and then reloading your life-saving fodder for the ride home. It’s annoying, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Federal’s Train + Protect line is affordable hollow-point ammunition that can hold its own in an emergency.

For 2023 this one-and-done solution has been introduced in 10mm Auto, featuring a hard-hitting 180-grain bullet.

For more information, please visit FederalPremium.com.

Speer – Gold Dot G2 carbine

Speer – Gold Dot G2 carbine: Personal Defense Ammo.

The best weapon to defend yourself with is the one you are most proficient in. So, if you’ve been swept away in the pistol-caliber carbine craze, good for you; let’s get you proper personal defense ammo now.

Nobody is going to argue the effectiveness of Speer’s Gold-dot bullets. But they have always been loaded for optimal performance out of a handgun. Speer’s new carbine load pushes a bit harder, maximizing velocity and reliably cycling long gun actions. Not to mention, it generates more thump on target at the same time.

For more information, please visit Speer.com.

Remington – Golden Saber Bonded 10mm Auto

Remington - Golden Saber Bonded 10mm Auto.

If the cops can have it, so should we. I’ve been saying that for years, and it looks like Remington feels the same way. Golden Saber Defense is now available to the public, and its bonded bullet is nothing to sneeze at.

This hot-fusion process keeps the jacket and core together, allowing it to penetrate intermediate barriers and stop a bad guy on the other side. You can start etching 2023 on .40 S&W’s tombstone because this product marks yet another addition to 10mm personal defense ammo.

For more information, please visit Remington.com.

Remington – Golden Saber Defense 10mm Auto

Remington - Golden Saber Defense 10mm Auto: Personal Defense Ammo.

Remington was so busy catching up on production that they didn’t have time to make a clever name for this line. However, make no mistake; Golden Saber Defense is very different from Golden Saber Bonded.

The Defense line features an unbonded bullet to reduce the chance of overpenetration. Not to mention coming in at a slightly lower price point. These are the rounds you want if collateral damage is a concern, yet you don’t want to go with frangibles. Somebody hug .40 S&W’s widow; this, too, is now available in 10mm Auto.

For more information, please visit Remington.com.

Byrna – 12-gauge Kinetic Slugs

Byrna – 12-gauge Kinetic Slugs.

Sometimes less lethal makes more sense in a defensive encounter. For instance, let’s say that you know the attacker and want to make the aftermath with their family less awkward.

Byrna is best known for its pepper guns, but for 2023 it is dipping a toe into firearms cartridges with its 12-gauge kinetic slugs. Designed to be fired out of any pump-action shotgun, these painful pills deliver an accurate smack out to 100 feet without penetrating the skin (in most cases).

For more information, please visit Byrna.com.

Hornady – .30 Super Carry

Hornady - .30 Super Carry: Personal Defense Ammo.

I hate to say it, but now there are more companies making .30 Super Carry ammo than guns to fire it. That’s a shame because I consider it a significant upgrade to .380 Auto and a fair compromise of power for capacity when subbing it for 9mm Luger.

It’s no secret that Hornady and Federal have an excellent relationship. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised to see the big red H get behind this tiny powerhouse. Using a 100-grain Critical Defense bullet, this load resists clogging. Likewise, it yields the type of performance that you expect from this iconic manufacturer’s products.

For more information, please visit Hornady.com.

Fiocchi – 4.6mmx30

Fiocchi - 4.6mmx30.

Some big things are in the works for 4.6x30mm. If 5.7x30mm has taught us anything, it’s that the US market responds well to skinny, high-velocity bullets. Fiocchi’s Hyperformance 4.6 delivers a 38-grain tipped hollow point projectile onto target at unheard-of speeds. Not to mention, it is also affordable enough to shoot at the range. It joins a jacketed soft point and FMJ loading to offer a rapid-expansion option for self-defense that produces minimal recoil.

For more information, please visit FiocchiUSA.com.

PolyFrang – 300 BLK

PolyFrang – 300 BLK: Personal Defense Ammo.

Close-quarters combat is a delicate dance—overpenetration and misplaced shots have a serious chance of hurting one of your teammates. PolyFrang ammunition is built to disintegrate when it hits a threat or intermediate barrier. This adds another layer to mission safety.

New for 2023 is its 125-grain 300 BLK loading that is built with its proprietary metal-impregnated polymer matrix to deliver lethality without collateral damage. These produce a similar point of impact to standard ammo and are even safe for suppressors.

For more information, please visit PolyFrang.com.

Aguila – 20g Mini Shells

Aguila – 20g Mini Shells.

Aguila mini-shells have been the biggest thing to hit the shotgun market since rubber recoil pads. For this reason, enthusiasts keep asking when 20-gauge is coming out. The short answer was not 2020- 2021, and 2022 isn’t looking good either.

However, now that the craze has died and millions of new gun owners have completed their stockpile, the time has come! These 1-3/4” 20-gauge beauties are filled with a stout load of 4B shot and make good medicine for home invaders without bruising your shoulder.

For more information, please visit AguilaAmmo.com.

Aguila – Jacketed Hollow Point Pistol Line

Aguila – Jacketed Hollow Point Pistol Line: Personal Defense Ammo.

Known for its affordable pistol ammunition, Aguila steps up to the plate with the show’s largest defensive cartridge line extension. For 2023 this mainstream manufacturer introduced a new load in .380 ACP, .38 SPL, .357Mag, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .45 ACP, and two in 9mm Luger.

All rounds feature a conventional JHP bullet and are packed into economical 50-round boxes. This product is great for rounding out your inventory or adding a carry ammo option to your favorite range blaster.

For more information, please visit AguilaAmmo.com.

Black Hills – 10mm Honey Badger

Black Hills – 10mm Honey Badger.

The Honey Badger is known for its tenacious attitude and determination. This fact makes it a fitting name for this line from Black Hills. Instead of relying on expansion to stop and transfer its energy, Honey Badger bullets radially-disperse matter and stop like a boat propeller crashing into a water’s surface.

As they are of monolithic construction, they also blast through non-liquid barriers with impunity. As if the big ten wasn’t already devastating enough, this ammunition is sure to seal the deal with anybody seeking to do you harm.

For more information, please visit Black-Hills.com.

Barnes – Pioneer

Barnes – Pioneer: Personal Defense Ammo.

You are no longer at the top of the food chain when you enter the woods. If something decides that you would make a good lunch, you’ll want ammunition guaranteed to perform. Barnes’ new Pioneer line of loaded ammo is optimized for revolvers and lever guns and has several options that include its legendary solid-copper bullets.

Solids have zero chance of experiencing jacket separation, meaning they hit hard and penetrate deep, regardless of the medium. This is precisely what you need to stop a charging animal dead in its tracks. Revolver rounds include .357 Magnum and .45 Colt, while lever gun fodder is available in .30-30 Win. or .47-70 Gov’t.

For more information, please visit BarnesBullets.com.

Buffalo Bore – Hard Cast .25 ACP

Buffalo Bore – Hard Cast .25 ACP.

If there is a company dedicated to keeping old cartridges alive, it’s Buffalo Bore. Although it has a strong foothold in the uber-powerful market subset, it occasionally surprises us with vast improvements on sub-calibers as well.

For 2023 it introduced a .25 ACP load packed with a 60-grain hard-cast load that travels at 875. These are real numbers gathered from live fire of the tiny pistols that this round was chambered in. Buffalo Bore isn’t shy about it being lethal, either. So, if you still carry this old standby, running this ammo for personal defense is your best chance of survival should something go bump in the night.

For more information, please visit BuffaloBore.com.

Doubletap – 140gn 357 Mag.

Doubletap - 140gn 357 Mag: Personal Defense Ammo.

Revolvers can be finicky, so the more loads available, the better. Picking up on a weight gap in its .357 Magnum line, Doubletap ammo has recently introduced a 140-grain load built with its celebrated solid-copper hollow point bullet. This is a fair middle ground between lighter 125-grain loads and the more common 158-grain fodder.

By splitting the difference, recoil is managed, and effective downrange energy is retained. These are also 100% lead-free and will satisfy locales that require it for range or hunting use.

For more information, please visit DoubletapAmmo.com.

Liberty Ammo – Overwatch

Liberty Ammo – Overwatch.

If you do the math, you’ll see that velocity plays the largest role in the downrange energy equation. Therefore, light-weight bullets moving at high speed make initial contact much harder than the inverse. Liberty built a name for itself by capitalizing on that idea and, in 2023, introduced its Overwatch line.

The projectiles in this line are designed to fly faster than comparable ones in the Civil Defense line. Likewise, they offer better barrier-defeating properties. Initial loadings will be in 9 mm Luger, .45 ACP, .223 Rem., and 300 BLK.

For more information, please visit LibertyAmmo.com.

Freedom Munitions – X-Def .357 Magnum

Freedom Munitions – X-Def .357 Magnum: Personal Defense Ammo.

As a reloading instructor, I always advise my students to leave defensive ammo to the manufacturers. If the unthinkable happens, a slimy prosecutor will throw everything he can at you. So, you want to be detached from the ammo as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t load your own practice rounds!

Freedom’s X-Def line is loaded with the same bullets available to the handloader from its sister company, X-Treme. Now for 2023, handloaders can carry the same .357 Magnum that they roll at home for range work. Its copper-plated 125-grain pill offers reliable expansion and unparalleled downrange energy, all for an affordable price.

For more information, please visit FreedomMunitions.com.

SIM – X DefenseCore

SIM – X DefenseCore.

The world becomes a better place when we take a little from each camp and grow from it. SIM-X ammunition was born from this theory, as it blends a polymer core with a metal jacket to deliver hyper-velocity and barrier penetration without overdoing it or injecting the cost of monolithic bullets into the final product.

These rounds are light to carry and light on the wrist overall. However, they stop precisely where they need to inside a threat. Loads are currently available in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.

For more information, please visit SimxAmmo.com.

By personaldefenseworld.com