Critical Defense Lite 9mm

critical defense lite

At the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers show in October, Hornady introduced a number of new products that will be available in 2015. Among them is the new Critical Defense Lite round in 9mm.

The new load uses an FTX bullet – a hollowpoint with a polymer plug – like the other Critical Defense loads use. However, this bullet is light for the caliber: only 100 grains. Also, it is a standard pressure round, not a +P.

Combining the standard pressure with a lightweight bullet can create less felt recoil as compared to heavier and faster rounds. In fact, Hornady states this round generates 27% less recoil than “standard loads.”

What the comparison load was that the company used to calculate the recoil reduction is not given. However, Hornady does offer a heavier, faster 9mm load in the Critical Defense line that would be the best choice for comparison.

Hornady states this load will penetrate 10″ in ballistics gel in the FBI heavy clothing test.

The polymer tip is pink, and the company donates a portion of the proceeds to fund breast cancer research. The rounds are also more expensive than the standard Critical Duty loads: $28.12 for a box vs $27.71 for a box of the normal Critical Defense 9mm.

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


  • M.M.D.C.

    Kinda sounds like a .380 in 9mm trousers.

    • Ethan

      It’s an easier way to achieve that than owning a whole second gun I suppose.

    • Scott

      +1 for use of the word “trousers”

  • Ran the numbers and it has a power factor of 112 and 280fpe.

    I think they would have gotten better penetration and performance running the 90 grain FTX at 1300fps for a PF of 117 and 337fpe.

    The 90 grain .380 load get 10-11″ in testing at 900fps, so 400 fps faster I think it would reach FBI specs unlike this round.

    • William Kister

      Unless it increases bullet expansion even more and decreases penetration because the bullet comes apart.

  • sdelcegno

    Yay underpenetrating rounds just what i wanted.

  • sdelcegno

    This is will perform even worse than the under performing critical defense normal ammo.

  • Pedro

    I’ll pass, thanks but no thanks.

  • jeff k

    these things hang up in my pistol i dont use them anymore . the ftx bullets i mean

  • URANid10t

    I’ve not had a problem in my S&W Shield, but I’m going to pay attention to that now.

    Good info, thanks!

  • Dr. Daniel Jackson

    I thought people chose 9mm for the ballistic advantage over .380,also who has trouble with recoil in 9mm?
    Even my 13 year old cousin Marissa can handle 9mm +p.

    • People who are not into shooting, those firing very small pistols, the elderly, those with arthritis or other hand related injuries, those with small/weak hands.

  • sdelcegno

    I wish I still had the links. Lots of testing by private people using calibrated medians which is important show power performance. Non consistent would probably be a better word normally low penetration and failure to expand. Critical defense was designed not to over penetrate but that’s its downfall as it under penetrates much of the time as well. Honestly why not stick to proven rounds that have no question of good performance like gold dot or hst?

  • Dr. O

    I applaued Hornady for producing these rounds. My 70 year old mother was reluctant to move to the 9mm until she fired these rounds. I bet anyone that breaks into her home now will not stop and say “no do not shoot me with those “wimpy” 9mm rounds”…LOL…it gives her the confidence to pull the trigger without flinching. All of you 200+ pound men that can fire anything in a pistol caliber great, you are just like me and quite frankly are the target size my mother needs to stop. I rather her shoot this round than a .38 ACP. My guns are all loaded with a form of Hornady for home defense, their stuff just works.