Ammo review- Hornady 135gr +P Critical Duty

I am always on the look-out for possible alternatives to my carry and duty ammo, just in case what I prefer to use ain’t available.

My go-to for my carry guns (all my serious carry guns are Glock 9mm and J frame .38s) and duty carry has been the 124gr +P Gold Dot for a couple of decades now.  This was the issued load at my department ever since that Gold Dot loading became available.  Back during one of the ammo drought/panic events my agency could not get Gold Dot without a ten month wait, even ordering as an agency, so I went with the 124gr +P Ranger-T, which turned out to also be a very good choice for a service or defensive load.

Lately I have been seeing the 135gr +P Critical Duty available on the shelf and I was curious to test some myself. I have attended two Hornady gel shoots now at LE ranges and noted that performance through the FBI testing events was very good.
One can see on the Hornady site performance numbers and pics of the gel testings, what I saw in person on calibrated blocks and through barriers was what Hornady shows on their site so I believe their numbers are valid.

Info and pics here from the Hornady site

Dr. Gary Roberts has also tested this ammo and posted his results on the Pistol-Forums site in the ammunition section, page here

I note that what I have seen in gel testing in person, and in my water tests, show the ammo in question expands a bit more and penetrates less than the ammo tested by Doc Roberts.  Hornady has been known in the past to tweek their bullet performance on the fly as it were, so I have to wonder if they have done so once again to get a more even penetration depth in gel testing and a bit more expansion.
I always like to QC check any ammo I buy, just in case, because I have seen weird stuff in the past like Ranger-T that wouldn’t expand, Gold Dots that had insufficient crimp on the bullet, and Cor Bon ammo that had a high squib rate, etc. Things happen.
My crono is dead and I need to buy a new one (as velocity testing is something I always do when buying new ammo as part of my QC checks) but I was able to water test the 135gr +P into water filled cardboard milk cartons (one of the old IWBA standards), both plain and through four layers of denim, and both bullets expanded perfectly and penetrated into the fifth carton before coming to rest, which is very similar performance to the 124gr +P Gold Dot when I have done the same tests with that load.

At the range I found that it’s reliable from my G17s and G19s, even with the dreaded “limp wrist”, and standing off-hand at the 25 yard line it hits to the same POA=POI as the zero I have with guns using the 124gr +P Gold Dot.
I note that from my G17 the 135gr +P groups slightly tighter than the GD, with my shaky standing groups on the B8 repair center being in the 3 1/2″ range and centered on the bull.

Normally this ammo actually costs more than my preferred Gold Dot, but I do note that it appears to be more available, and available off the shelf at the Academy store in town whereas Gold Dot of almost any kind has to be purchased via internets around here, so with a bit more testing I appear likely to be using this as one of my recommended loads for people needing a duty worthy 9mm round.

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