Critical Duty is Hornady's newest line of pistol ammunition. Unlike Critical Defense, the Critical Duty line features a bullet that has been constructed with an "Interlock Band" to help the core and jacket stay together as they penetrate various barriers. I like the Critical Defense line of ammo and it has tested well for me. I tested this load last year in SIM-TEST so I wanted to test it again in the Clear Ballistics Gel for a better understanding of what the bullet does inside the block.
If you are interested in the previous test, you can find the recap HERE.
Test Pistol Specs:
I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block that measures approximately 6" x 6" x 16" and weighs approximately 16 lbs. I take the test shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured with the chronograph less than 2 inches away from the block. Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density and periodically validated with the standard BB penetration test used with Ordnance Gel. I shoot the test block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullet. Immediately prior to shooting the test block, I conduct a 5 shot velocity test over a ProChrono Digital chronograph.
The test results are summarized in the data sheet below along with several close up shots of the recovered bullet. Recovered weight includes the 2.5 grain red plug because it was still deeply seated in the hollow point cavity when the bullet was recovered.
Video documentation of the entire test from range through bullet recovery is available below. The high definition video is best viewed on YouTube, but you can also view it here.
My Thoughts on this Load:
This load is amazingly consistent in the PM40 test pistol. This test shot as well as the prior test shot were both measured at 959 feet per second. The 5 round velocity test averages, captured at the time of each test, were both 959 feet per second. That's spooky consistent.
This load feeds like a dream in this PM40. This PM40 is probably the most ammo fussy pistol I own and regularly chokes on just about anything other than FMJ. That's a big plus for this ammo.
Unfortunately, the lack of expansion causes this round to penetrate well beyond the 12" to 16" ideal penetration depth. The 130% expansion ratio also falls short of the desired 150%+ expansion target.
Pick or Pan:
Hornady created this load to perform best in duty length barrels of 4" or more. After two tests in the short barrel, I see their point and would not recommend using this load in a short barrel 40. Critical Defense is probably the better choice for a short barrel 40 S&W. Critical Defense is optimized for short barrels and it will also have the same bullet nose profile as the Critical Duty. It should feed and function well in my PM40, but I'll have to test that first to be sure.
Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media. Terminal performance in all other media will show different results. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.
Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.