How big of a Second Amendment supporter are you? Are you an enthusiastic hunter? Are you a gun collector? Or maybe you have a job in the pro-gun world. Maybe you're a single mom with a couple of kids to protect. We pro-2A folks are a diverse group. But one thing almost all of us have in common is an interest in self defense, and central to that interest is finding self defense ammunition that we trust with our lives.
There's a whole slew of self defense ammunition options on the market today, ranging from the venerable old Hydra Shok, to the famous Black Talon, to the innovative offerings from G2 Research and Lehigh Defense. But which one is best? Is it the one with the perfect amount of penetration? The one that creates the largest permanent wound channel? Or is there a metric that is far more important? In my opinion, if a self defense round doesn't reliably feed into the chamber, and doesn't reliably go bang with the first strike of its primer, I'll never even consider it as an option to protect my life.
But how on earth are self defenders with limited budgets supposed to test out their carry ammo and prove to themselves that it will always feed, and always shoot? Who has the money and time to fire thousands of rounds of high-end self defense ammo through their carry gun? Who has a carry gun that can even take that kind of abuse without encountering its own issues?
At Bullet Bouquets, we have not had the opportunity to test all the self defense rounds out there. But we definitely have a lot of experience with a broad range of ammo types in the three most common autoloading self defense calibers, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. And when it comes to one particular self defense round, the Federal HST, nobody on the planet has shot more of them than we have.
In our seven years in business, we've fired hundreds of thousands of HSTs, spread amongst the 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers. We go through the stuff like candy on some days. But what are the results you ask? Well, they're nothing short of phenomenal. As far as feeding goes, there has only been a tiny handful of rounds that would not load into our tight chambers. Probably on the order of one per 30k rounds. And you must understand that our chambers are far tighter than those on quality self defense pistols, like Glocks, which are specifically designed with looser tolerances for reliability’s sake. So a round that's tight in our chambers will not be tight in a self defense pistol. I feel comfortable in saying that not a single cartridge of Federal HST has been through our shop that would present a failure to feed in any common self defense gun. They're just that good. Complete dimensional stability and repeatability.
Now onto the other reliability issue: duds. Duds are most commonly caused by faulty primers. We have had Federal HST duds at a rate of (insert a quick drum roll here) about one per 100k rounds. In my opinion, that's an extremely small rate of failure. It's the sort of reliability that gives a self defender a solid reassurance.
Let's all take a quick step back and put this into perspective. While we have fired more HSTs than anyone else, we are doing it in fairly controlled conditions. You do need to ensure any prospective self defense ammunition you choose will feed and fire reliably in your gun, and with you pulling the trigger. Just as you need to train for the inevitable failures. We all need to practice our tap-rack-bang drills, and ball and dummy drills. But the HST does at least deliver peace of mind. It has demonstrated extraordinary dimensional stability, and firing reliability.
As for the other less important metrics of self defense ammunition, target penetration, barrier penetration, expansion, and permanent wound channel, I won't go so far as to say the HST is the best out there. There are just too many choices, trade-offs, personal preferences, and variables to really name any single round the champion. You're always going to find a better expander, a larger permanent wound channel, a deeper penetrator, etc. But will you be able to fire hundreds of thousands of them in order to prove their firing reliability? In this one instance, I can say with certainty, the HST is reliable. For me, for my family, the HST will always be my self defense ammo choice.