Top 40 Smith & Wesson Ammo Brands for Optimal Performance

40 smith & wesson ammo

A well-known brand in the weapons market, Smith & Wesson is synonymous with quality and reliability. Alongside their exceptional firearms, the ammunition they produce is equally crucial for optimal performance. In this article, we’ll explore the top 40 Smith & Wesson ammo brands that ensure peak performance for your firearms. From understanding the importance of quality ammunition to delving into the factors that influence your choice, we’ll navigate through the intricate world of selecting the right ammunition for your Smith & Wesson firearm.


Procedures for Testing Self-Defense Ammunition 

The images and information below are from a very detailed post by Lucky Gunner, along with some of our standards. The test’s specifics, which closely resemble FBI protocol, are as follows:

10 feet away and shot 

In front of the ballistics gel, there are four layers of fabric to replicate the “worst case” situation of clothes. A 12–18 inch penetration is ideal. More than eighteen inches could pass right through the target and strike something outside of it. However, a minimum of 12 inches shields against heavier targets and the possibility of striking something like an arm before the body. 

Five images for additional information 

40 smith & wesson ammo

Five shots into the shorter barreled rifle with ballistic gel. Lucky Gunner employed the Glock 27, which has a 3.42-inch barrel, in place of the full-size pistol used in most tests. The majority of persons who carry a gun do so in a small calibre. The penetration and velocities may be marginally higher for those of you with longer barrels. We usually stick with 165gr and 180gr for self-defence ammo because those are the two most popular bullet weights for readily available practice ammo. This article is divided into sections on self-defence and range ammo, with the latter three being more concerned with accuracy, dependability, and affordability.

The Top 5 40 S&W Ammunition Options for Self-Defense 

  1. Speer Gold Dot 165 gr JHP
  2. Winchester PDX1 Defender 165 gr JHP
  3. Hornady Critical Defense 165 gr JHP
  4. Remington Golden Saber Bonded 180 grain JHP
  5. Sellier & Bellot XRG Defense 130 gr SCHP

Speer Gold Dot 165gr JHP


  • Weight of bullet: 165 grams 
  • Type of Bullet: Gold Dot Point Hollow 
  • Type of Casing: Brass with Nickel Plate 
  • Snout speed: 1150 feet per minute 
  • Firepower: 484 foot-pounds


  • Reliable duty ammunition for experts 
  • fairly priced 
  • Incredible terminal ballistics


  • Reloading nickel-plated casings can be challenging.

Why We Made That Decision 

Speer Gold Dot is the most reliable duty ammunition used by law enforcement organizations nationwide. When it comes to terminal performance, the Speer Gold Dot hollow point meets all FBI ballistic gel testing requirements for expansion and penetration, setting the standard that all other ammo makers must follow. The pressure-formed core of this round is structurally coated to avoid core-jacket separation. The end outcome is a deep penetration and deadly wound channel that will stop any bad guy from threatening your life fast and effectively.

The affordable price point of the Speer Gold Dot is another important selling factor. As a result, shooters can rehearse using their self-defence shots without running out of ammunition. The nickel-plated brass casings that Gold Dots uses might be challenging to handload. Nevertheless, nickel-plated brass cases have greater corrosion resistance and are more reliable than other munitions, which makes them some of the best available for self-defence.

Winchester PDX1 Defender 165 gr JHP


  • Bullet Type: Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point Bullet Weight: 165 gr 
  • Type of Casing: Brass with Nickel Plate 
  • Snout speed: 1140 feet per second 
  • snout 476 ft-lbs of energy 


  • A bonded jacket offers superior retention of weight. 
  • Over-penetration is decreased by controlled expansion. 


  • Expensive 

Why We Made That Decision 

The company’s most recent hollow point bullet innovation, the PDX1 Defender, is derived from the venerable Winchester Ranger hollow point bullet. The PDX1 has a notched hollow point design that allows it to quickly split into six even pieces when it comes into contact with soft tissue. This not only eliminates the possibility of over-penetration and keeps your rounds within the enemy (where they belong), best 9mm defense ammo short barrel  but it also forms an incredibly lethal wound channel that will stop a bad person cold. The PDX1 is the best self-defence ammunition, with the greatest stopping force and deep penetration to reach the essential organs while adhering to FBI gel test regulations. The PDX1’s one drawback is its small price premium over Speer Gold Dots. However, considering the terminal performance that the Winchester PDX1 provides, it’s a tiny price to pay!

Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense 


  • Weight of bullet: 165gr 
  • Type of Bullet: Jacketed Hollow Point with Flex Tip 
  • Brass casing type 
  • Snout speed: 1175 feet per second 
  • snout 506 foot-pounds of energy 


  • dependable growth 
  • Very precise Drawbacks 
  • Limited accessibility 

Why We Made That Decision 

Critical Defense of Hornady Top-notch performance is provided by FTX because of features like the unique Flex Tip. This tip eliminates the possibility of hollow point clogging that can happen when a bullet goes through clothes while allowing maximum penetration. High-quality propellants are used in the production of Hornady Critical Defense bullets, which serve to minimize recoil while preserving velocity in a variety of temperature conditions. 

These Hornady 40 S&W bullets are among the most accurate cartridges available right now. They all produced outstanding accuracy in the Glock,  Hornady Match Ammunition Smith & Wesson, and Sig semi-auto pistols that we tested them in. Our main complaint with the Hornady Critical Defense, 165 gr FTX, is that it is occasionally difficult to locate. Thus, if you do discover it, be sure to stock up, as this superb 40 S&W ammunition will make you very happy.

Remington Golden Saber Bonded 180gr BJHP

40 smith & wesson ammo


  • 180 grams of bullet weight; Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point bullet type 
  • Type of Casing: Brass with Nickel Plate 
  • Snout speed: 1015 feet per second 
  • snout 412 ft-lbs of energy 


  • a lengthy history of successful performance 
  • Weight retention is increased by bonded jackets. 


  • Expensive 

Why We Made That Decision 

The Remington Golden Saber, a genuine “meat and potatoes” hollow point, is still one of the best options for self-defence ammunition available to both law enforcement and the general public. The Golden Saber Bonded hollow point, while not as flashy as some modern hollow points like the PDX1, 22 caliber shells for sale  nevertheless packs a mean punch due to its large 180-grain bullet weight and outstanding muzzle velocity.The 180 grain JHP Golden Saber is the only self-defense round you need if you’re searching for something that just plain works every time. You’d be better off purchasing some full metal jacket practice bullets instead of the Remington offering, which is the priciest ammo on our list of the best 5. 

Sellier & Bellot 130gr JHP XRG Defense 


  • Weight of bullet: 130 grams 
  • Type of Bullet: Hollow Point Solid Copper 
  • Brass casing type 
  • The velocity is 1247 feet per second. 
  • Snout 449 foot-pounds of energy

Advantages Minimal recoil 

  • Economical Eco-friendly solid copper bullet Drawbacks 
  • Lightweight bullets 

Why We Made That Decision 

This is the 130 gr XRG hollow point Sellier & Bellot (abbreviated S&B) ammunition, which completes our list of the top five. It works well for self-defence in a 40 S&W. Because it is a solid copper bullet, the XRG hollow point is special and an excellent option for lead-free ranges. This implies that the XRG hollow tips will weigh less (130 grains) than conventional 40 S&W ammunition. Don’t be misled by the XRG JHP’s modest bullet weight,  bullet drop on 30 06 either; they have wicked expansion and less recoil than their heavier equivalents. 

It is crucial to remember that the heaviest grain is not always the optimum grain for 40 S&W. Shooters carrying lightweight handguns will value the less recoil a 130 gr self-defence cartridge delivers over its 165-180 gr counterparts. You won’t mind practising target shooting with your self-defence rounds every time you visit the range because they have the lowest cost per round on our list of the top 5. 

Distinguished Remarks

All of the self-defense rounds listed here are excellent hollow points that will save your life in an emergency. We wanted to make sure you were aware of these fantastic alternatives, even if we were unable to include them all in our top 5 list.

Federal HST 165 gr JHP: In the world of self-defense shooting, Federal HST hollow points are a standard. These hollow tips offer tremendous expansion, deep penetration, and remarkable precision. They are an excellent option for home defence or concealed carry and are the standard issue ammunition for many law enforcement organizations.180 gr XTP JHP Underwood Ammo Have you ever wondered what it feels like to fire a 357 Magnum from a semi-auto? Take a look and grab some Underwood ammunition! Designed with a huge 180 grain XTP hollow point, these 40 S&W defense rounds are designed to kill. They have a tremendous amount of stopping power, so they’re not for the weak of the heart. Barnes 140 gr TAC-XP JHP VOR-TX,  best 10/22 barrel for accuracy The hollow point chamber of the Barnes TAC-XP hollow point, is extraordinarily deep and wide. Their double-digit expansion results guarantee that the bullet won’t over-penetrate and maybe strike an uninvolved bystander. It is advisable to test these rounds in your CCW handgun before carrying them because the results of the ballistic gel test indicate that their penetration may be a touch below par.

Federal 165 gr Hydra-Shok JHP: The HST’s ancestor is the Federal Hydra-Shok. The Hydra-Shok has more than enough bite to stop any villain or would-be intruder, even though he might be a little long in the tooth. The benefit of Hydra-Shok ammunition’s age is that it’s still more affordable than more contemporary self-defence cartridges, making it a fantastic choice for those on a tight budget.

Ranger T-Series Winchester 165-Grain JHP: The Winchester Ranger T-Series is the only hollow point available that is both gnarly and delicious. The Ranger T-Series hollow point, formerly known as “Black Talon,”  Best 9mm Defense Ammo Short was renamed to avoid a bad reputation in the market. Its purpose was to deal the greatest possible damage to an enemy. The hollow point enlarges into six razor-sharp talons that tear through organs, bones, and flesh, creating a wound channel that is extremely lethal. Ranger Ts are rare and usually only available to police enforcement agencies, so if you ever come across a box, don’t hesitate to grab one. 

Choosing the right ammo for your preferred 40 S&W pistol primarily depends on your financial situation. Using self-defence ammunition is essential to building accurate muscle memory and marksmanship so you can neutralize threats with speed and force. Purchasing the best ammo for your pistol is always advised. 

Buyer’s Handbook 

40 smith & wesson ammo

Do you own a 40 Smith & Wesson handgun, then? Congratulations! The 40 S&W is a potent handgun round that has more kinetic energy than the 9mm Luger and more muzzle energy than the 45 ACP. When it comes to handgun ammo, it is the “Jack of all trades, master of none” strategy. When the 40 S&W cartridge was introduced in 1990,  Federal Champion Ammunition 40 it quickly gained popularity among law enforcement organizations who wanted a more potent handgun than the 9mm. Still, it did want to keep the outdated 45 ACP and 357 Magnum. It can be difficult to determine which self-defence ammo is ideal for your particular pistol with the wide variety of ammo options available. We’ll go over some topics in this Buyer’s Guide to assist you in choosing the best ammunition for your 40 S&W handgun. Just remember to click the link to return to our Top 5 ranking at the end of the Buyer’s Guide! 

Bullet Weight 

40 smith and wesson ammo bullets will make up the bulk of 40 S&W ammunition. 95% of the time, you’ll be firing 165 or 180-gr projectiles, while you will see certain bullet weights lower than 165 grains. Generally speaking, most shooters concur that 180-grain bullets are best for target shooting and 165-grain bullets are ideal for self-defence.  Federal Hydra-Shok 9mm 135GR JHP This is due to the 165 gr bullets’ increased muzzle velocity, which allows for deeper penetration and marginally reduced recoil. The 180-grain bullets, on the other hand, will have more kinetic energy but slightly more recoil and less penetration.


The 40 s and w bullets is a highly fast round with a lot of recoil for its size, so let’s not fool ourselves. Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper’s 10mm Auto inspired the 40 S&W, a high-pressure round that does a lot of damage to a shooter’s wrists. While it may be slower than a 357 Magnum, the heavier recoil of the 40 is difficult for many novice shooters to handle.

The severe recoil of the 40 caliber smith and wesson ammo has caused many law enforcement agencies to switch back to the 9mm. If you are sensitive to recoil but are set on using a 40 S & W for self-defence, select a lighter bullet weight to help keep recoil lower. But if you have access to another calibre, Hornady 500SW 300GR   a 380 ACP or 9mm is more manageable. 165-grain bullets will often have less free recoil than factory loads made with 180-grain. Cartridges such as the Sellier & Bellot XRG 130 gr JHP or the Barnes VOR-TX 140 gr TAC-XP are recommended for shooters who are sensitive to recoil. 


You are less likely to obtain the crucial practice you require if the ammunition you select doesn’t fit inside your budget. To keep in practice, always select self-defence ammunition that you can afford to occasionally shoot through a box or two. While it’s always a good idea to try practising with your defence ammo, most shooters at the range prefer to use inexpensive FMJ bullets. The different types of .40 cal ammo practice pistol ammo from Magtech, PMC, and Blazer Brass is among the least expensive on the market. It is always advisable to keep in mind that full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds are not appropriate for self-defence; nonetheless, 40 S&W Brass Armscor 200ct  they are excellent for target practice. Unlike hollow tips, when FMJ bullets come into contact with soft tissue, they do not expand. This indicates that an enemy will probably be hit by FMJ bullets that over-penetrate and impact whatever is behind them. Purchasing 40 S&W ammunition in bulk is a smart approach to maintaining a full stock of FMJ ammunition. This guarantees you always have a supply of practice cartridges and minimizes your expense per round. Use FMJ ammunition for practice, and on each trip to the range, put at least one box of self-defence rounds through your home defence pistol or concealed carry weapon. Make sure your magazines are always loaded with the best JHP ammunition that works with your gun for self-defence.


As always, we appreciate your reading and hope you found the information useful. We would be delighted to hear from you if you have any inquiries or remarks! Additionally, could you have a look at our Best?40 s&w 180 grain fmj Pistol Guide for assistance in locating a pistol chambered in Smith and wesson 40 ammo? Until then, see you later!

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