Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ted Nugent Ammo 9mm American Defender 115 Grain UHP Tests

Way back in January of 2012, I wrote up a blog post about Ted Nugent Signature Ammunition.  Developed in conjunction with Pierce Munitions, I have to believe that they are the current producer of the ammunition tested here.  I'm making an educated guess simply because the Pierce website has active links to the Ted Nugent Ammo website/webstore.  I picked up a box of the 9mm American Defender load last year and it's been waiting in my stash for testing ever since.

The 9mm American Defender is loaded with a 115 Grain Uni-Cor hollow point bullet made by Speer.  After a quick trip over to the Speer website I found that they list this bullet as Uni-Cor® Bonded Gold-Dot®.  Confused yet?

In my opinion, I think Speer wants to be the only seller of Gold-Dot.  They also sell Gold-Dot bullets to commercial ammunition makers as a component.  Anyone, other than Speer, that loads the Gold-Dot bullet has to call it a Uni-Cor hollow point bullet.  As far as I'm concerned, these appear to be the same 115 grain bullets that Speer loads in their Gold-Dot ammunition. 

The ammunition appears to be well crafted and has Nugent headstamps on the brass cases.  One thing that was pretty unique was an actual date printed on the box.  I'm assuming it was the production date (09/05/13).  I wish more ammo makers would provide that date as it would make ammunition rotation easier. 

The back of the box has a message from Ted along with the made in the USA certification.  American Tactical is listed as the ammunition Distributor.  After all that, let's get down to the test and see how it did.

 Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify penetration is similar to 10% Ordnance Gel.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
This load appears to be a close copy of the Speer Gold Dot 115 grain loading at a slightly lower velocity than the original.  Our 1222 fps velocity average from this test was dead on the specification published on the box.  While we don't know the barrel length used to create the specification, we do know our test barrel was 4.5 inches in length.  The velocity specification for the Speer Gold Dot 115 grain load is 1210 fps from a 4 inch barrel.

It was unfortunate that we didn't see expansion with all test shots.  On the other hand, we were able to see the difference in terminal performance as the layers of denim increased.  This load was a decent performer with three layers, but adding the fourth layer was just too much.    

Pick or Pan:
I think we need to be realistic in the final evaluation for this load.  A single shot that fails to expand through 4 layers of denim doesn't represent a statistically significant sample.  If you notice the third shot was also the slowest shot of the five.  The Ted Nugent American Defender appears to be good ammunition, but falls short of being great ammunition.

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.


  1. Great review, as usual. In my opinion, this was a very acceptable level of performance. I'd buy a box if I ever saw one.

  2. You are the pocket gun specialist. Why did you test this ammo with a full-sized pistol? If these are Gold Dot bullets, I can get the terminal ballistic data from a service barrel on their website.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Because I ran the test on the same day I did the Federal 9BP and 9BPLE. Also you wouldn't have know they were similar to Gold Dots if I didn't test them in a service length barrel.

    3. Thanks for another excellent ammunition test and review, Bruce. The Gold Dot/Unicor design is one of the most consistent performers extant and despite it being over 20 years old, it is still one of the better selections to be had for self-defense.

  3. I have been studying ballistics for 9mm handguns and from what I can come up with only the Barnes XPB solid copper bullet is recommended for 115 gains. I think this is an indication that the 115 gain JHP bullet just does not perform consistently even if it's bonded as your test showed. I live in hot weather (Texas) and I choose the federal HST for all my handguns. The Gold Dot does penetrate better but it seems nothing expands and penetrates consistently like the HST. If I lived in colder weather I think I would be using the 124 +P Gold Dots like the NYPD does. Depending on the barrel length and gun I use 124, 124 +P and 147. I also have 147+P but I am not sure it offers any performance increase over the other loads and has more recoil. Thank you for your great testing, keep up the good work!!!