And Little Pink Bullets for Me and You…

Need a light-recoiling self-defense load for your .38 Special revolver?  Take a look at the new ammo from Hornady:  the Critical Defense Lite.

The new .38 Special load uses an FTX bullet like the other loads in the Critical Defense line of ammunition, but is specifically loaded to be as mild as possible while still retaining the ability to stop an attacker.  The FTX bullet uses a polymer tip, but unlike the other bullets from Hornady, this tip is pink.

The Lite load uses a 90 grain bullet that makes for 1200 fps out of a 4” test barrel.  I would imagine that most people would carry this load in a snub nose revolver such as a Smith & Wesson J-frame.  Typically these guns have a barrel length of 2” or less, so don’t expect this load to get anywhere near 1200 fps from one of these guns.

Hornady Critical Defense Lite

While this cartridge will never be considered a powerful load, it may make shooting the gun a lot easier on someone who is exceptionally weak or disabled.  In the past, I have recommended the Federal Nyclad ammunition for people who do not have the strength or desire to shoot +P loads from a snub.  Now that the Critical Defense Lite load is available, shooters have another good choice for low powered self-defense needs.

Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is


  • Brian P.

    Might be worth considering for my grandma, actually. I had her shoot some plain ol’ .38 Specials out of my 4″ GP100, and she didn’t care for that, either. If these are light recoiling, perhaps they’d work for her in a smaller revolver?

    • Lolinski

      Another idea might be a rubber stripe on the grip, these help reduce recoil that is why they use them on Taurus Revolvers.

    • Esh325

      What about a 9mm semi auto?

      • Chrontius

        If we’re talking about the physically infirm or those lacking hand strength in general, some people can’t work the slide. Guy I know can outshoot me handily – and one-handed. He needs a convenient table to work the slide, though.

        I’m really surprised he doesn’t prefer a revolver.

  • Awesome… but did they really have to go with pink?

    • I’m with you. I think they should change the color to a more gender-neutral one. Imagine that you are a man, with a disability that effects you wrists, shoulders, or arms. Arthritis, perhaps? Perhaps you’re already a little self-conscious about it. Unable to defend yourself against a stronger attacker, you need an equalizer, right? Are you really going to appreciate the girly pink tips of the Hornady reduced-recoil ammo? I wouldn’t think so.

      Hornady, change the pink tip to a white or yellow one. Anything but pink or purple. I’d almost suggest changing the name to LadyPower, but I guess that’s sexist, as there are women that can handle +P loads just fine.

    • Some Guy

      I’d say someone who was self conscious enough to be worried about the color of the tip of their bullets, which nobody but them could see, was girly should just go ahead and either deal with pink being a color or buy another round. It doesn’t even look that girly when it’s just the round-I wonder if the same person would be distressed with the thought of their brain being pink.

  • bbmg

    Given the “marginal” nature of the load, is it really a good idea to sacrifice penetration depth for expansion?

    Certainly the pink tip will injure the attacker’s pride more than anything…

    • Duray

      Considering that a 90gr .35 slug at 1000 to 1100 fps is virtually identical to a maximum .380 load, the same logic would apply to pretty much every expanding .380 load out there. Personally I wouldn’t worry about the reduced penetration. It’s a bullet, and it pokes holes in bad guys. If it doesn’t come out the other side, so much the better.

      • bbmg

        I would rather it came out the other side, as the bad guy is now leaking from both sides and anything important in the bullet’s path is guaranteed to have been perforated.

    • Reverend Clint

      thats why you have 5 more

    • Esh325

      It might be “marginal” in some peoples eyes, but to the some of the women shooters this is being marketed to, it’s better to have a marginal load they can shoot well than that’s too much for them and then they can’t shoot it well.

      • bbmg

        Agreed as argued elsewhere, a hit with a marginal bullet is infinitely better than a miss with an overkill one.

  • A long time ago when I did the training class for my CCW permit, there was a 70+ year old lady in the class with a .38 snub. This load would be perfect for her.

  • They could make it dual-purpose and put lipstick in the tip (you heard it here first… ;-))

  • ZeCatnip

    They could always use the tagline “Real men shoot pink”. I think people might get a kick out of that.

  • Marc

    “An effective, reduced recoil load for women shooters only, because men don’t mant to be associated with pink and breast cancer research via their ammunition.”

  • TOR

    Wifey’s pistol has the Federal Nyclads in it right now. No huge reason behind it, they are good HP ammo and I ended up with a couple boxes. If those pink bullets show up in my neck of the woods will grab a box. She would get a kick out of them. Pink bullets for her pink gun. Still probably keep the Nyclads loaded though.

  • Nicks87

    If it makes shooters more comfortable/confident then I’m all for it because it will make them a better marksman (or markswoman?).

    Some people just need to grow up and not worry about the color.

  • Sian

    I wonder what sort of velocity it would get from an LCR. It’s hard to find a load for that thing that isn’t nearly as punishing to the shooter as the target.

  • Patty

    I really like the idea of having a round for those who still need protection but the kickback can cause discomfort. I work with several men and women who are older that I feel this round would be ideal for. But I don’t get the need for pink. Surprisingly, since it is my favorite color. And the woman’s nails in the video, honestly? How would you load a clip with those? Hornady makes some beautiful rounds. But let’s try not to alienate customers by following a fad.

  • derfel cadarn

    It is basic physics at work here,all actions have a cost. In light weight firearms it is muzzle blast and recoil. Those hoping to have adequate energies in front of the weapon without having to handle the opposing reaction are dreaming. There is NO free lunch.

  • Mike Knox

    Another pink thing..