Hollow-point cartridges from Hornady under test: FTX Critical Defense, FlexLock Critical Duty and XTP Subsonic, what are the differences?

Not all hollow point bullets are the same – even if they come from the same manufacturer. That's the conclusion of the comparison test conducted here. There are differences from bullet to bullet, which also have an effect on the practical use of the respective cartridge. This is deliberately intended by the manufacturer. We have taken a look at three different loadings from the US manufacturer Hornady and compared them for you.

Hornady's Critical Defense ammunition
Hornady's Critical Defense is designed as a self-defense cartridge.

Hornady FTX Critical Defense

The first bullet of the US manufacturer, the 115-gr FTX Critical Defense, is primarily intended for self-defense/home protection, as the name suggests. Here in Europe, it is offered by the manufacturer for hunting, in particular for finishing shots – again, only where allowed by law. The hollow point bullet converts the energy very quickly and reliably. Among other things, this is thanls to the patented elastomer tip, which on the one hand prevents clogging of the hollow point and on the other hand accelerates the mushrooming process. In our test with ballistic soap, the bullet diameter when mushroomed was 0.57”/14.5 mm, and the residual weight was 113.6 grains, which corresponds to 98.8 percent. The advantage with this cartridge is a fast energy release and a low overpenetration threat. However, this bullet is not the first choice for hunting very tough game animals, since the 115-gr FTX Critical Defense does not deliver a particularly deep penetration effect.

 the Hornady FlexLock Critical Duty ammunition 
Very good depth effect: the Hornady FlexLock Critical Duty ammunition showed very good results in the test with good mushrooming and high residual weight.

Hornady FlexLock Critical Duty

In contrast, the 135-gr FlexLock Critical Duty service ammunition, which has been introduced to the FBI among others, offers more penetration and even works through "barriers". The cartridge is tested according to FBI protocol. As a hunting cartridge on tough game – such as wild boar – the 135-gr FlexLock Critical Duty is ideally suited, because with this bullet you will achieve a very good penetration effect and also quickly reach the vital organs. Also the penetration of e.g. skull bones is no problem for this bullet. In our test when firing ballistic soap, the residual weight of the Critical Duty bullet was 134.3 grains, which is 99.6 percent. The bullet diameter when mushroomed was 0.55”/14 mm. This is a very good result.

Residual weights of the Hornady bullets after our ballistics test:

  • The FTX Critical Defence, which formerly weighed 115 grains, has a residual weight of 113.6 grains.
  • First 135 grains, then 134.3 grains: the FlexLock Critical Duty. 
  • The weight of the XTP Subsonic decreased from 147 grains to 129.8 grains.
The weight of the XTP Subsonic
The weight of the XTP Subsonic decreased from 147 grains to 129.8 grains.
The formerly 115-grain FTX Critical Defense
The formerly 115-grain FTX Critical Defense weighs 113.6 grains of residual weight.
The FlexLock Critical Duty.
First 135 grains, then 134.3 grains: The FlexLock Critical Duty.
the XTP Subsonic from Hornady
Despite being subsonic at the muzzle, the XTP Subsonic from Hornady also delivers a good penetration effect. Noise when firing is more pleasant too.

XTP Subsonic: Hornady's subsonic cartridge is available in many calibers

The 147-gr XTP Subsonic, the third cartridge in the test, is also designed and developed in the US for self-defense, but it still delivers good deep penetration thanks to its slower, heavier bullet. The entire Subsonic series from Hornady was actually developed specifically for use in short and long guns with suppressors. But even without a suppressor, the sound of the shot is more pleasant – meaning less strain on the hearing of humans and dogs when hunting. The bullet itself offers reliability, accuracy and excellent and consistent ballistic effect. To be fair, unlike the 135-gr FlexLock Critical Duty, the penetration effect would diminish somewhat if the 147-gr XTP Subsonic had to pass through extremely hard barriers. Since the Critical Duty has no CIP approval only in the 9mm version, the 147-gr XTP Subsonic is the best choice in this caliber. However, in .357 SIG, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto and .45 Auto calibers, the Hornady Critical Duty is CIP-approved and commercially available. This also makes it a good cartridge for the hunter.

For more information please visit the Hornady website.

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