Top 5 40 S&W Self Defense Ammo

If you own a 40 S&W you likely know how great of a self-defense round it is. It was designed in 1990 after the FBI realized they needed a round to be similar to the 10mm auto but with lower recoil. When you choose your next defense rounds, check out our list of the top 5 40 S&W defense rounds.

Bullet Specs

Most 40 S&W ammo will be 180 grains, but you can find it anywhere from 60 to 210 grains. With a velocity between 900 to 1,400 FPS you can expect muzzle energy between 400-500 foot pounds. This means the 40 S&W has more than enough power to be an adequate law enforcement round, home defense round, and even woods defense round in some scenarios.

Bullet Styles

Jacketed Hollow Point

Jacketed Hollow Point ammo is a go-to for most defense situations. These rounds are widely available, offer massive wound channels, and reliable expansion. Get your hands on Jacketed Hollow Point Ammo from popular brands like Federal Premium, G2 Research, and Fiocchi.

Polymer Tip

Polymer-tipped rounds like the Hornady Critical Defense and Hornady Critical Duty are trusted by shooters to provide reliable expansion no matter the target. They create deep wound cavities at a variety of velocities, making them an ultimate defense round.

Flat Nose

The bullet weight and energy can make the 40 S&W a great woods defense gun for medium-sized threats. Flat nosed ammo is the best way to ensure deep penetration when you may need to protect yourself from wild game.

Variety of Handgun Options

With defense ammo, it’s important to select a round you can trust with your life in jeopardy. With so many 40 S&W pistols on the market, it is important to try and practice with several different rounds and see which rounds perform best in your specific gun before carrying your pistol in a possible defense scenario. Luckily, MidwayUSA has a wide range of ammo options to meet your needs!


Federal Premium Personal Defense 40 S&W Ammo 165 Grain Federal Hydra-Shok Deep Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 20

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok has proven itself for self-defense since 1989. Hydra-Shok Deep builds off the time-tested platform with design improvements that better meet modern performance measurements. The bullet features a more robust center post and a core design that provides as much as 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok and competitor loads. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable nickel plated brass cases.



  • Penetrates 15 inches in bare ballistics gel—the optimal depth according to FBI standards
  • 50 percent deeper penetration than original Hydra-Shok
  • 70 percent improvement in FBI protocol score
  • Iconic center post design has been improved for better, more consistent expansion through standard barriers.
  • Consistent, specially formulated propellant
  • Extremely reliable Federal primer


About Federal Premium

Federal Cartridge Company, as we know it today, started in 1922 when Charles Horn purchased Federal Cartridge and Machine out of receivership. Federal’s first products were shotshells, followed by rimfire in 1924. In 1976, Federal Premium was launched, combining boutique bullets with premium propellants and nickel-plated brass to create the “best of the best” in centerfire ammunition. Over a century later, MidwayUSA offers a complete spectrum of Federal ammunition, ranging from shotshell offerings like: Top-Gun, High Over All, Game Loads, Gold Medal Grand, and Prairie Storm; and centerfire rifle ammunition such as Fusion, Power-Shok, Gold Medal Match, Meat Eater; to centerfire pistol ammunition: HST, Punch, and American Eagle. Federal continues to manufacture rimfire ammo in the form of AutoMatch, Champion, and Game-shok. Federal supports handloaders with standard: small pistol, small rifle, large pistol, large rifle, 209 shotshell primers, and the Gold Medal-series match primers.

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Hornady Critical Duty 40 S&W Ammo 175 Grain Hornady FlexLock Polymer Tip Box of 20

"The most consistent and reliable barrier ammo on the market"

Hornady Critical Duty Ammunition offers Law Enforcement, Tactical Professionals and those looking for a great personal protection round ammunition that wont let them down. This ammunition incorporates two new revolutionary Hornady Features: Flex Tip bullets that initiate consistent expansion while preventing clogging, and the InterLock band which locks the jacket and core together preventing separation and ensuring maximum weight retention. This bullet has proven terminal performance through ALL  test barriers every single time. The core on this revolutionary bullet is made of high-antimony lead alloy making it tough, delivering controlled expansion and loaded in nickel plated cases to help prevent corrosion.

This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable nickel plated brass cases.

What Customers Are Saying

Hornady demonstrated this ...

Hornady demonstrated this round for my department today along with 9mm, 9mm +P, 308, .223 etc. The rounds were fired through wall board, car glass, two layers of sheet metal, and plywood into calibrated ballistic gelatin. In all cases the barriers were defeated and 12-18" of penetration into the gelatin was achieved. All pistol calibers penetrated about the same. This loads works as advertised.
- Andy, 8/22/2012

About Hornady

“Ten bullets through one hole” is the philosophy that brought Hornady® Manufacturing from a two-man operation in 1949, to a world-leading innovator of bullet, ammunition, reloading tool and accessory design and manufacture today. Change is their constant and daily challenge. They outperform their competitors by ensuring the products they make are the ones their customers need right now, and accurately predict what they’ll want in the future. They recognize trends, and respect when to leave well enough alone. Their workforce includes an ample number of hunters and competitive shooters, as well as veterans and former law enforcement officers. At Hornady® Manufacturing, ammunition is more than their livelihood. It’s a major part of their daily life.

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Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense 40 S&W Ammo 60 Grain Fragmenting Hollow Point Lead Free Box of 20

Liberty Civil Defense ammunition is a high velocity, extremely accurate load designed for self-defense. The 60 Grain Lead-Free Fragmenting Hollow Point bullet travels at 2000 feet per second, resulting in 10 inches of ballistic gel penetration. This light bullet, high velocity round yields less felt recoil and has an effective range of 25 meters. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, and requires no weapons modifications.

What Customers Are Saying

Best .40 Ammo

I have tried a many .40 ammo since it was introduced.I carry a full size Smith & Wesson M&P.I was very skeptical about this 60gr ammo but decided to give it a try.I took it to the range and I was taken by surprise with the power of this ammo. Very accurate and the recovery time for the next shot is less being lighter slug.It sounds great too. I only tested it shooting at a target at 5, 10, 15, 25 yards.I have since bought more to carry for self defence.Best .40 ammo thus far.
- Evie Lee, 12/1/2012 Shop Now

Sig Sauer Elite Performance 40 S&W Ammo 180 Grain Sig V-Crown Jacketed Hollow Point

SIG V-Crown defensive rounds combine perfected material specifications and fine-tuned design innovations, including a stacked hollow point cavity, to deliver exceptional on-target energy with maximum weight retention and optimal expansion for ultimate stopping power. SIG V-Crown ammunition creates a consistent V-shaped main cavity on top of a deep narrow trail with superior weight retention, maximum expansion, optimal penetration depth time after time. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer-primed, reloadable nickel-plated cases.


  • Designed to match Sig Full Metal Jacket ammunition
  • High Quality components
  • Reloadable nickel-plated brass cases

Note: Due to availability of components, this ammunition may or may not be shipped in nickel plated brass.

What Customers Are Saying

Good product, great price

I tested this in a Sig P226 against relatively tough wet-pack (alternating layers of copy-paper and construction grade pine plywood soaked thoroughly in water). Note that the purpose of this wet-pack test is to give the bullet a worst-case scenario and see whether it performs reasonably well. The 180gr Sig bullet worked well, penetrating about 7 inches into wet-pack, including punching through two 5/8 inch sheets of plywood. One recovered bullet expanded to .72 inches on the widest side, .61 at the narrowest side; it shed very little lead, weighing 166.5gr, which is good considering that the plywood helps mimic a worst-case scenario of hitting bones. How does this ammunition compare to other options? For the money, this seems to be a good choice, and seems intended as a direct competitor to Hornady Critical Defense, but clearly this ammunition favors expansion while the Critical Defense favors penetration. At the premium end of the price range, the ultra-premium choices such as Speer Gold Dot are...
- Matt, 11/4/2017

About Sig Sauer

Born from the Swiss Wagon Factory company in 1853, the Sig Sauer brand we know today is one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the firearms and outdoor industry. In their world-class facilities, they build the toughest, most precise rifles, pistols, suppressors, optics, ammunition, and airguns, while offering the finest firearms training — all as a fully integrated system. They offer models such as the P365 Pistol, Tango Rifle Scope, MCX Rifle, and ROMEO-X Reflex Sight. They do this because they share the same drive to be the best, the same love of freedom, the same unwillingness to compromise — as those who choose their brand. SIG SAUER--NEVER SETTLE.

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G2 Research R.I.P. 40 S&W Ammo 115 Grain G2 R.I.P. Fragmenting Hollow Point Lead Free Box of 20

G2 Research is a premium self defense, and environmentally conscious defense/hunting ammunition manufacturer. G2 Research's vast understanding of material properties and utilization of complex geometries renders predictable and consistent results that maximize the effectiveness of its solid copper/lead free projectiles. The G2 Research R.I.P. (Radically Invasive Projectile) features a unique one hundred percent copper petaled-trocar design which gives it the ability to not only penetrate deep into a target but also fragment in fluid. Upon entering a gel or fluid the petals break from the base and create individual wound channels as the base continues on course. This penetration and separation delivers not only a maximum shock wave but wound path as well. In years of ammunition design there has always been a trade off between mass and velocity to accomplish the goal of effective stopping power. G2 Research added a third variable with the patented trocar design. The surgically designed trocars offer better barrier penetration thus maintaining a higher velocity when hitting a target, transferring more energy into the target. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable brass cases.


What Customers Are Saying

No Issues

Fortunately, I have not had the need to test these on a threat. They feed and eject out of my Glock-23 without a single problem. These are my EDC ammo
- TimeRanger, 5/22/2018 Shop Now