Welcome back to another edition of TFB’s Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go! For those who are first joining us, this is a multi-part series where TFB will discuss the characteristics of great ammunition for specific applications. This could vary from big game hunting, plinking, precision rifle matches, small game hunting, or even pistol competitions. Chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round for your task at hand. This week I will offer up some tips on picking the BEST 10mm Ammo for STOPPING POW-AH!!! This is a classic buzzword people like to throw around (myself included), but on a more serious note that we can measure, we will be assessing the velocities, grain weights, and ballistic gel results from various ammunition you could use for self-defense or hunting.
TFB ROUND TABLE: selecting THE BEST 10mm ammo for stopping pow-ah!
When we are talking about the BEST Millimeter of all the handgun cartridges in the 10mm Auto it is mandatory to discuss STOPPING POW-AH! It is a running joke among TFB writers that the 10mm is the “best millimeter” (ask ballistic gel expert Andrew from TFBTV what he thinks). Maybe it is because the popularity of the 10mm ebbs and flows like an ocean tide over the years. Or because our older legion of shooters remember the origins of the cartridge and how it used to be really powerful.
All of these things are partially, if not completely, true. Modern ammunition, both hollow-points (HP) and full-metal jacket (FMJ), are much more downgraded in their power factor compared to how the cartridge was originally designed. James Reeves alluded to this in our last TFB Round Table when he discussed the Best 9mm Defense Rounds, but the 10mm Auto was birthed due to 9mm being viewed as too weak and inadequate for defense in the 1980s. As a result, much of the original ammunition produced for 10mm Auto was at maximum velocities, pressures, and Ft-Lbs of energy because they were trying to overcompensate and create something truly powerful.
Now fast forward 30 years into the age of Starbucks, Uber, and everything gluten-free where people are more sensitive to recoil. I know, of course, only the manliest of men and only the strongest women read TFB so that would not apply to you. Most ammunition manufacturers though do not make stout 10mm ammunition as the cartridge was originally intended anymore. You need to make a concerted effort to search out and find potent loads with STOPPING POW-AH nowadays, and that is what we are here for.
VELOCITY – warp speed ahead!
Since in this conversation we are enamored with STOPPING POW-AH aka Foot-Lbs of energy we need to know what makes that number increase or decrease. The formula for Foot-Lbs of energy is your bullet’s velocity squared … multiplied by its mass… then divided by a constant value (the mathematical “constant value” used for Foot-Lbs is 450,437).
Knowing that simple formula you can see how important the velocity of your ammunition truly is. If you are lobbing a huge bullet with no speed behind it your energy is going to be really low. That is why for the sake of power we need speed. So while most boxed ammunition will tell you the muzzle energy somewhere on the carton you could always attempt to calculate it yourself. If you forget that formula entirely after reading this article just know that velocity helps knock stuff out. Whether that is a big-game animal, a grizzly bear charging you, or a bad guy robbing your house in the middle of the night. Velocity grows your muzzle energy quickly.
BULLETS – WHAT ARE YOU gonna send?
When we need power “bigger is better“ is a pretty appropriate mantra to have as long as you can maintain a decent velocity while heaving a watermelon sized bullet. So what if we use bullets on the heaviest end of a particular cartridge’s loading spectrum? Then, what?… The next thing to consider is what type of bullet is it? In an ideal world, we would want an entirely copper bullet for a few reasons. For one, it provides more consistent and predictable expansion. There are very few things as beautiful as a perfectly blossomed hollow-point freshly plucked from a ballistics gel block. What that little flower equates to on flesh is a large wound cavity, petals that cut as they travel, and a higher likelihood that all of the energy from that round is fully deposited in whatever it hits. Moreover, the bullet does not zip through its target, over-penetrating, and failing to deposit all of its potential energy.
While bonded solids and lead core bullets can perform well their expansion is less consistent. If you are hunting game these lead tipped projectiles can also leave lead in their wake. No one wants to eat lead in their freshly harvested game. So in a perfect world, a heavy copper bullet flying at a high velocity is exactly what we want.
WRAP UP – BEST 10mm ammo for stopping pow-ah!
Since we have been talking about STOPPING POW-AH this entire article, this Top 5 list will be decided purely by the Foot-Lbs of energy generated by some of the best 10mm loads tested by Ammunition to Go. All of the ammo tested by Ammunition to Go was fired from a Glock 29 from a distance of 10 feet and through 4 layers of clothing into a ballistics gel block. This Top 5 list of the BEST 10mm Ammo for STOPPING POW-AH has speed, heavy bullets, varying jacket types, and quite a few different brands (some might surprise you).
As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for TFB’s Round Table brought to you by Ammunition to Go! Also, let us know what you think in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
TFB’S ROUND TABLE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY AMMOTOGO.COM
In the number five position, we have SIG Sauer punching in with one of their 180 Grain V-Crown loads. This ammo is topped off with a Sierra Bullets hollow-point specifically made for SIG Sauer’s branded line of ammunition. This ammo produces 624 Ft-Lbs of energy at the muzzle flying out of a 3.78″ test barrel. It also exceeds the average penetration depth of the ammo tested. The deformation of the V-Crown; thus, expansion of the hollow-point is fairly inconsistent though which is not ideal. The SIG Sauer V-Crown load is not “perfect” for self-defense, but it boasts many good properties nonetheless.
When people discuss hard-hitting 10mm loads a name that will inevitably be in the discussion is Buffalo Bore. For all calibers across the spectrum, Buffalo Bore has carved out a niche for themselves by engineering some definite hurting-bombs. In this specific load, they top off some ammo with proven Barnes TAC-XP hollow-points that launches 627 Ft-Lbs of energy at the muzzle. This is fairly impressive coming from a lighter grain weight bullet. The one downfall is its relatively shorter penetration depth. Conversely, it produces extremely consistent and beautifully expanded bullets upon impact. For all those reasons, this flavor of Buffalo Bore lands in the #4 position.
Hornady is as complete of an ammunition manufacturer as any on the market. Within handgun ammo, they have multiple lines dedicated for defense such as Critical Duty, Critical Defense, American Gunner, and Custom. The Custom series of hollow-points is traditionally meant to be a quality yet affordable line for shooters to choose from. Surprisingly, for the 10mm Auto, their Custom 180 Grain XTP exceeds their premier lines of HPs in energy. The Custom 180 Grain pill puts out 650 Ft-Lbs of energy with a solid 20″ of penetration in gel testing. While the deformation/expansion of the hollow-point is not a picturesque flower petal it does expand well. For a generally affordable price-point of $21.95 per box from Ammunition to Go it is a great option for 10mm defense.
Underwood is another brand for hard-hitting ammo that would appear on a Mount Rushmore of STOPPING POW-AH if such a thing existed. They exert 676 Foot-Lbs of energy on whatever they connect with, but they unfortunately come up short in other areas. These bonded jacketed hollow-points (JHP) expand really well, but they are inconsistent in their expansion and shape as well as leave lead behind. Also, they only penetrated the ballistics gel a meager 13.4″ which was one of the shortest distances tested by Ammunition to Go. So while these bullets truly do thump they do not have quite the perfect recipe to make it into the number one spot on this list.
Buffalo Bore ammunition is known in shooting circles anecdotally as the best ammo you can possibly shoot when you need power, and the math checks out. For this 180 Grain JHP load it generates the most Foot-Lbs of energy tested by Ammunition to Go with a whopping 728! This is the only ammo tested that exceeded 700 Foot-Lbs of muzzle energy. With that type of energy, it also managed to expand out to almost 3/4″ in diameter; that is larger than the size of a dime. The average penetrated depth from gel block testing was 18.6″ and the Buffalo Bore was a shade under that at 18.4″ of depth. Finally, you can see from the photos below that these bullets absolutely got smashed and deformed. With this much energy and penetration, it is no surprise that they did not have perfectly symmetrical deformation; rather, fairly inconsistent expansion from all that STOPPING POW-AH!!!