• Home |
  • Best 9mm Home Defense Ammo: Keep Your Family Safe

Best 9mm Home Defense Ammo: Protecting You & Your Loved Ones

Best 9mm Home Defense Ammo

When defending your family and home, you need ammo that provides peace of mind because it flawlessly functions, quickly neutralizes a threat, and is unlikely to penetrate your walls.

That's what the best 9mm home defense ammo, Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX, does.

However, there are many more rounds, which I've listed below, that I would trust in a home defense situation, whether I'm shooting my 9mm Luger Smith & Wesson Shield or a short-barrel rifle.

Recommended 9mm Home Defense Ammo

  1. Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX - Best Overall
  2. Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 147-grain JHP - Best for an SBR
  3. Federal Law Enforcement HST 147-grain JHP - Best for a Carbine
  4. Hornady Subsonic 147-grain XTP - Honorable Mention

Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX - Best Overall


  • Bullet Type: Flex-Tip Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 115gr
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,140 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 332 ft-lbs
  • Casing Type: Brass


  • Trusted Brand
  • Reliable
  • Low recoil
  • Accurate
  • Excellent Penetration


  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

I've tirelessly searched for a better round than the Hornady Critical Defense 115gr FTX, and I have yet to find one.

The Hornady Critical Defense 115gr FTX is the best 9mm round for home defense because it's reliable, accurate, has low recoil, and perfect penetration without the risk of overpenetration through your walls.

These are the rounds I carry in my subcompact concealed carry pistol ever day. After testing many different brands and bullets, they performed the best in my pistol and are manufactured by a well-established, trusted ammunition brand.

My EDC pistol is small and lightweight, so I needed a low-recoil round without having to step down to something like Hornady Critical Defense Lite, and the 115-grain bullet doesn't generate too much recoil when shot from my Smith & Wesson Shield.

The low recoil and FTX bullet, which has a polymer tip, also make this round ridiculously accurate. While I haven't needed to use it in a self-defense situation, when punching holes in paper, I shoot very tight groups with these rounds. And I'm by no means an excellent shot with a pistol.

The unique design of the FTX bullet also helps it penetrate heavy clothing, including leather, before expanding to cause as much damage as possible to vital organs. The perfectly timed expansion drastically reduces the risk of punching through walls and injuring or killing your loved ones. So, you and your family stay safe while the bad guy has a bad day.

Though I've never shot it into ballistics gelatin to measure the terminal performance, like penetration depth or wound channel, I'm confident they'd get the job done after shooting watermelons and pumpkins with these rounds.

The biggest drawback to these rounds is how expensive they are compared to Speer Gold Dot JHP and especially Magtech 115gr JHP. However, neither of the previously mentioned rounds has as advanced bullet technology as the Hornady FTX bullet, so it makes sense why they're more expensive.

To be fair, many of my friends who work for law enforcement agencies rave about how much they love Speer Gold Dot. So, it's definitely something to consider if you can't find any Hornady Critical Defense rounds.

After my testing, there's no question that the Hornady Critical Defense 115gr FTX JHP is the best 9mm ammo for home defense, even though it's expensive.

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 147-grain JHP - Best 9mm Self-Defense Ammo for a Short Barrel Rifle


  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 147gr
  • Muzzle Velocity: 975 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 310 ft-lbs
  • Casing Type: Brass


  • Inexpensive
  • Hard Hitting
  • Reliable
  • Reloadable
  • Loaded in the USA


  • Lesser Known Brand

Why We Chose It

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 147-grain JHP is the perfect round to load into your semi-auto SBR (short barreled rifle) or PCC (pistol caliber carbine) because it's hard-hitting, reliable, and accurate.

The biggest reason to use these rounds is because they're inexpensive, and you can reduce the price of 9mm ammunition even further by reloading the spent brass. I'm a big believer in practicing with the gear you plan to use, but that gets very expensive with self-defense ammunition.

Thankfully Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 147-grain JHP is half the price of most self-defense rounds like Remington Golden Saber and Sig V-Crown hollow point bullets.

Not only are these rounds reliable in 9mm pistols, but they also cycle well in short-barrel rifles.

The heavier 147-grain 9mm bullet has plenty of stopping power to take out a bad guy, though it's not nearly as heavy as a 45 ACP bullet. I also don't mind the extra recoil the heavier bullet creates in a SBR because the gun is heavier and able to absorb more than a handgun will.

An added bonus about Fiocchi 9mm ammo is that American workers load it. I love keeping jobs in America for those more than willing to work for a living.

My biggest complaint about this ammo is that not enough people shoot it or have even heard of it. The average shooter doesn't know Fiocchi exists, which is sad.

Suppose you own a short-barrel rifle for protecting your family. In that case, I strongly recommend these defensive loads because they're inexpensive, so you can practice with what you plan to use, and they're reliable and reloadable. That's a formidable combination to beat!

Federal Law Enforcement HST 147-grain JHP - Best Self-Defense Ammo for 9mm Carbine


  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 147gr
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,000 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 326 ft-lbs
  • Casing Type: Nickel-Plated Brass


  • Trusted brand
  • Hard-Hitting
  • Designed for Tactical Use
  • Reliable
  • Accurate


  • Heavy Recoil in a Carry Gun

Why We Chose It

Federal HST 147-grain is an excellent option for your 9mm home defense carbine because it's ultra-reliable, accurate, and designed for law enforcement.

Federal Premium Ammunition has been trusted by law enforcement and civilians for decades. Federal continues to produce its ammo in the USA, which is always a bonus!

These defense rounds pass the ballistics gel tests and standards set forth by the FBI, so you know you're getting a hard-hitting round that's less likely to over-penetrate.

Whenever you open this box of ammo, you'll notice the nickel-plated brass casings, which make the case even smoother, allowing for better cycling in full-size pistols like a Glock 19 or a 9mm Carbine like the HiPoint 995 Classic.

All of the Federal Premium line-up, such as Federal Personal Defense 147gr HST JHP, uses high-quality components. So, you know the round will go bang and hit where you were aiming when you pull the trigger.

The biggest drawback to these rounds is the amount of recoil they generate because of the heavy bullet. This doesn't affect the shooter nearly as much when using a carbine, but when shooting them out of a full-size or compact pistol, you'll feel it.

Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to use Federal Law Enforcement HST 147-grain JHP as my carry ammo, especially if I was loading it into a 9mm carbine for home defense.

Hornady Subsonic 147-grain XTP - Honorable Mention


  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 147gr
  • Muzzle Velocity: 975 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 310 ft-lbs
  • Casing Type: Brass


  • Trusted Brand
  • Quieter
  • Hard-Hitting
  • Reduced Risk of Overpenetration


  • Sub-Par Terminal Performance
  • A Little Pricey

Why We Chose It

I had to mention Hornady Subsonic 147-grain XTP for those searching for a quieter round, especially when using a suppressor.

I've already mentioned how Hornady is a trusted brand that uses high-quality components to make reliable and accurate ammunition. Still, the 147gr bullet keeps this subsonic ammo in the fight.

Even with the reduced powder, the bullet has enough stopping power to make it a bad day to be a bad guy in your home. Speaking of the reduced amount of powder, that also helps to decrease the likelihood of punching through multiple walls and injuring those you cherish most.

The biggest downside of all subsonic ammo is the sub-par terminal ballistics. They simply lack the power of traditional and +P defense rounds.

My other complaint is the price; though they're not as expensive as Hornady Critical Duty 135gr FlexLock JHP, but they're nearly double the price of Winchester Ranger 147gr JHPs.

However, if you don't want to harm your hearing while in a firefight, Hornady Subsonic 147-grain XTP is an excellent choice for home defense ammo.

How to Choose 9mm Ammo For Home Defense

Buying ammo for home defense is different than purchasing ammo for target shooting because the bullet characteristics need to be different since the result needs to be different.

My general process for choosing ammo for home defense is buying several different brands with various bullets, never a full metal jacket (FMJ) for self-defense, and seeing how well my gun shoots them.

This is because your Glock might cycle and shoot Winchester PDX1 better than Hornady Critical Defense, but a Sig Sauer might perform better with Federal Hydra Shok, and a Ruger might like Lehigh Defense XP best.



So, when choosing carry ammo, what should you look for and consider?

I initially look for reliability. I want the round to function flawlessly because nobody has time for a jam in a high-pressure situation.

Next, I consider how accurate I am with the round. If I can't hit the broad side of the barn, it's no help to me. CCI has a 9mm shotshell with #4 pellets designed for pest control that could also double as close-quarters self-defense rounds for those that are less accurate.

The amount of recoil now factors in, but that's also a part of how accurate I am with the rounds.

Lastly, price factors into my decision. I won't hesitate to spend more on defense rounds than my target shooting rounds because lives are at stake, not just a fun day at the range.


I mentioned above that I prefer to train with the same ammo I carry, but this gets expensive.

So I'll often use an FMJ or TMJ bullet for most of my target shooting and then switch to my carry ammo when drilling specific situations.


Self-defense ammo is expensive due to the advanced bullet technology. It's more than just a lead-core bullet wrapped in a metal jacket like target ammo.

While I urge you to stay within your budget, I also strongly recommend getting the best ammo you can afford. Remember, lives depend on these rounds performing perfectly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you'll find that the team at Ammo.com has rounded up and answered a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding the best 9mm ammo for home defense.

What 9mm grain is best for home defense?

The 9mm grain that is best for home defense is 115-grain because it will have the least amount of recoil, be accurate, and have plenty of stopping power.

What is the best ammunition for home defense?

The best ammunition for home defense is shotgun ammunition because it's the least likely to over-penetrate, yet it has plenty of stopping power to end the threat.

Is 9mm hollow point good for home defense?

Yes, 9mm hollow point is good for home defense.

Is 9mm too much for home defense?

No, 9mm is not too much for home defense. However, I prefer a shotgun with #2 Shot or BB for home defense to reduce the risk of punching through multiple walls.

Parting Shots

Now you see why I ranked Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX as the best 9mm home defense ammo on the market. It's accurate, hard-hitting, and reliable, all excellent qualities in a high-pressure situation.

Don't worry; we have plenty of other 9mm home defense ammo in stock at Ammo.com if your gun happens to reject Hornady ammo.

If you're looking to save further, consider visiting our bulk 9mm ammo page for great deals on larger quantities.

Wes Littlefield
Written by
Wes Littlefield

Cartridge Recommendations