Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hornady Critical Duty 45 Auto +P Four Shot Test with "Bone"

A big Pocket Guns and Gear Thank You! to Richard at Guns, Holsters, and Gear for providing the ammunition used in this test.

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.  The "Duty" part of the name implies that this line of ammunition was created for the Law Enforcement market for folks that would use this ammunition in their line of duty.  This ammunition line is optimized for pistols with longer or "Duty" length barrels.  The Hornady documentation on this ammunition line states that it will pass the stringent FBI Ammunition Testing Protocol in all available calibers.

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run a third test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim and simulated bone block of 1/2" red oak hardwood suspended in Clear Ballistics Gel.
Step 6)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:  I left a few of the blooper events in the video this time around just so you can see how things don't always work out perfectly on the range, but usually end up working out fine in the end.

My Thoughts on This Load:
Having previously tested Critical Duty in 9mm +P, 9mm Standard Pressure, and 40 S&W from short test barrels I was really curious to see how this load would behave in a full size duty length pistol.  There were no surprises in the test results as each test shot performed as we've come to expect from Hornady FlexTip hollow point bullets.  Each recovered bullet displayed the modest expansion and deep penetration performance that we've seen in past tests.  Weight retention was excellent, even with the bullet that was shot into our 1/2" thick red oak hardwood block.

The fake bone block was new for this test and you are welcome to view the following video for more background on the test. 


Pick or Pan:
One of the nice things about doing multiple shots per test is that you end up with several data points instead of just a snapshot of the performance of a single test bullet.  If the terminal performance of this test box is indicative of the typical performance of this load, I would consider this round a pick for cold weather carry where the chance of encountering significant clothing barriers is greatest.  This also assumes that the firearm used has a barrel length of 4.6" or more.  

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. Just curious if you think 19"+ is over-penetration? Was surprised you didn't comment on that in the text.

    Also... is that a beer you're drinking in the video??

    1. I've tried to limit my commentary (opinions) and just stick to the facts of the test. Penetration was what it was in this test, and my opinion on penetration results will never been in-line with everyone who reads the blog. I may have some expertise in conducting a controlled variable test that can repeated with many different ammunition types, but I'm not an expert on optimal terminal performance. Portraying myself as such was never my intention. I run tests, gather results, share them, and let folks make their own personal decisions on which ammunition will work best for their needs.

      My cold beverage of choice was a Diet Coke. I enjoy a beer, but never on the range.