Ammo Review: Winchester PDX1 Elite Defender .40 S&W 165 Grain

The .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge has been called many things since it was introduced in 1990.

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 40 S&W 165 grain.JPG

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 40 S&W 165 grain

Slow & Weak

Save your bacon & Walk free

Sexy & Winchester

Shoot & Wound

Sledgehammer & Wallop

Shortened & Widened

Sluggish & Wimpy

Slay & Waste

Studious & Well-spoken

Oh yeah, and Smith & Wesson

Used by the majority of law enforcement organizations, the .40 S&W round has somehow managed to gain flocks of proponents and many vocal detractors. One thing we’ve found in our testing is that broad caliber generalizations are absolutely meaningless. Everything depends on the specific projectile and load being tested with any given caliber.

Let’s take a closer look at the Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 Defender ammunition in .40 S&W 165 grain loading.

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 Defender .40 S&W 165 Grain Ammunition Overview

Winchester PDX1 ammunition is a bonded hollow point design. In average Joe’s English, that simply means that the jacket of the bullet is chemically attached to the lead core interior. Speer Gold Dot ammunition uses a similar design process.


Winchester believes that a bonded design allows more control over the delicate balance between penetration and expansion – without risk of jacket separation that is prone to occur with traditional jacketed / lead core bullets. The Winchester PDX1 round is pre-programmed by shape and cuts to expand into six segments as the projectile expands.

165 grain .40 S&W: Feel the need for speed…

We clocked a veritable pile of the Winchester PDX1 Elite .40 S&W 165 grain ammo through our Shooting Chrony Beta Master, placed 15 feet down range. When all was averaged out using some complex addition and division with a touch of calculus, we found that the PDX1 ammo achieved average velocity of 1,195 feet per second. Factory specs listed on the box claim 1,140 feet per second at the muzzle, so this round outperformed the claims in our evaluation.

The test gun for the velocity test was a Beretta PX4 Storm full size – we did a full gun review on this one a while back. This particular handgun features a 4 inch barrel, so we’re not getting the full velocity advantage of an extra inch on a longer barreled pistol – and the round still outperformed the velocity claim.


Could be a number of factors. Perhaps the claimed velocity is a conservative number. We’ve seen that before and we always welcome conservative marketing claims – it’s a pleasant surprise when your ammunition performs even better than expected. Or perhaps our testing is done in a higher temperature environment. We’re in South Cackalackee where weather conditions are generally 90/90/90. That’s 90 degrees, 90 percent humidity, and 90 times hotter than it should be. The hotter it is, the higher the pressure, and higher the measured velocity.

Winchester PDX1 ammo expansion performance

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 ammo expansion

Expansion performance of the Winchester PDX1 was excellent – most rounds doubled in diameter.

Our expansion testing always considers performance through barriers. Any reasonable ammo will expand in picture perfect manner when shot into water or gelatin. It’s like reality TV. Real, but not really. Many fail however when you place the water or gelatin backstop behind real world barriers like clothing. Not too many thugs run around buck naked as far as we know, so we’d rather see how our carry ammunition performs against clothed attackers.

For the Winchester PDX1 Defender tests, we used a barrier consisting of 2 layers of light canvas and 2 layers of cotton fabric. We’ve settled on this combination to provide an average “clothing” simulation for average weather conditions. We’ve found that many brand name hollow points have failed to perform consistently behind even this relatively simple barrier. Some rounds will expand while others will clog with fabric and behave like full metal jacket ammunition – passing right through the target. Behind the fabric barrier, we used simple wet pack. That’s just thoroughly soaked newsprint.

We obtained excellent results with this particular Winchester PDX1 ammo. The extra velocity available with the 165 grain load made a noticeable difference in expansion performance. The packaging claims 1.5x expansion capability. In our tests, we found that projectiles expanded to over .6 inches in diameter easily, with many rounds doubling in diameter. Performance of the programmed petal expansion was consistent as well with all six petals expanding in nearly every case.

Closing arguments

This particular Winchester PDX1 ammunition performed in stellar fashion. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s important to look at each specific loading independently as performance may vary. We’ll be testing the heavier, but slower, 180 grain Winchester PDX1 ammo as well and will report on that separately. Considering that this test was done with a Beretta PX4 Storm with average barrel length, we highly recommend this round for mid size to full size handguns. We’ll try to test it in a short barrel .40 S&W handgun to see how it fares.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Velocity was better than advertised through an average length barrel and expansion performance through moderate fabric barriers was excellent. What more can you ask?


Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Ammo Review: Precious Metal You Can Bank On – Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP 185 grain JHP

“I love gooooooooold!”
Goldmember, 2002 and 1975

Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP ammunition expansion performance

Most bullets expanded to .75 inches

We’re developing a fondness for it as well. In its jacketed form anyway.

As part of our ongoing Will It Expand series, we’ve been testing lots and lots of ammo. Many of those tests have represented somewhat realistic scenarios. Others?  Not so much.

In any case, it’s been interesting to learn how different premium self-defense ammo performs in less than ideal situations. Any bullet will expand into perfect mushrooms in water or gelatin, but how many keep working as advertised when shot through leather, canvas, layers of fabric and even hard barriers?

One that has consistently impressed us is the Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP 185 grain JHP load. We’ve been shooting it from a full size Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote with a 5 inch barrel. Out of this particular gun, we’ve measured velocity with our Shooting Chrony Beta Master at an average of 1,062 feet per second – clocked 15 feet from the muzzle.

Feeding has been flawless, even with the TRP’s tight chamber dimensions. What has really been impressive however is the expansion performance. We’ve shot it through  multiple layers of leather and cotton fabric and through a half dozen layers of light canvas. In both scenarios, we backed the barriers with wet magazines – not the most forgiving of bullet test mediums.

As you can see by the attached photo, we’ve gotten consistent expansion results with most rounds measuring  in the neighborhood of three quarters of an inch.

Felt recoil with this round is modest due to the 185 grain projectile weight.

We recommend it.


AVAILABLE HERE: Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP JHP 185 grain JHP, 25/box

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore .380 Auto +P Barnes TAC-XP

Buffalo Bore .380 ACP +P Barnes TAC-XP

Penetration into dense wetpack was 5 to 8 inches after heavy leather barriers.

Dang. We’re starting to become fans of this Buffalo Bore stuff. We were pleasantly surprised with the results of our test with an uber-velocity, light weight 9mm load. Now we’ve been pleasantly surprised with, of all things, a .380 ACP load.

We recently tried a similar load from Doubletap Ammunition and were a bit perplexed by the lower than expected velocity out of a Ruger LCP.

So we persevered on our quest for a fast and reliable expander out of a short barrel .380 ACP. Le Petit Canon’s are all the rage nowadays you know.

The Buffalo Bore load features an 80 grain Barnes TAC-XP Projectile that hums along at 1,275 feet per second from a test-length barrel. Buffalo Bore goes to great efforts to publish expected ‘real world’ velocities for each of their loads. For the this .380 load, Barnes claims the following performance:

1231 — fps – Browning Double Action-3.75 inch barrel

1235 — fps – Walther PPK-3.5 inch barrel – (faster than longer barrel above, no typo)

1130 — fps – Kel Tec P3AT-2.75 inch barrel

1136 — fps – Kahr P380-2.75 inch barrel

Fortunately, we own a Walther PPK/S and a Ruger LCP, which offers an equivalent barrel length to the Kel Tec P3AT with its 2.75 inch barrel, so we’ll be able to compare actual velocities in the swamp to factory claims.

How did it do with our guns? At 15 feet from the muzzle, we clocked the following:

Ruger LCP: 1,107 feet per second

Walther PPK/S: 1,177 feet per second

Given the Shooting Chrony was 15 feet downrange, these loads came in right about on target per the specs.

We did some basic expansion testing that involved shooting through two very heavy layers of leather and several layers of cotton fabric. After all this, our little .380 ACP loads still managed to fully expand 3 out of 4 times.

Buffalo Bore .380 ACP +P TAC-XP expansion performance

3 of 4 expanded fully after 2 layers of heavy leather and fabric

One interesting ‘heads up’ to note if you purchase this round. The cases have a very slight, but visible bulge. According to Buffalo Bore, this is normal given the high charge and longer length of the Barnes TAC-XP projectile.

“The all copper, long-for-weight, Barnes bullet is so long that when seated to an OAL of .940 to .950 inch, the base of the bullet will make a slight bulge in the case, but this DOES NOT affect feeding or chambering as the bulge is not pronounced enough to cause any problems, but in order to avoid endless emails, I’m mentioning it here.”

We experienced no feeding or chambering problems with either the Walther PPK or Ruger LCP.

Impressive ammo.

Buffalo not included.

You can buy Buffalo Bore Ammo here.

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ 95 grain Barnes TAC-XP

Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ Tac-XP ammunition

Buffalo Bore shoots the boot – successfully

They say you can blow up a tank with a marshmallow if you can get it moving fast enough. While we’re still waiting on a civilian legal marshmallow rail gun, we’re taking a baby step in that direction by testing this load.

With all the shooting of random things we’ve done over the years, we’ve been less than impressed with the high velocity, low projectile weight theory. Light bullets at enormous speed make for spectacular water jug explosions, but when shot through something harder like clothing, leather, bone simulating materials, rocks, black eyed peas, or grape jelly, performance – and especially penetration – leaves a lot to be desired.

We’re totally violating our own self-imposed ammo rules with this test and trying a relatively lightweight 95 grain 9mm bullet at insane velocity. The Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ round claims to launch a Barnes TAC-XP bullet at a realistic maximum of 1,550 feet per second. Buffalo Bore estimates the following expected velocities out of some common 9mm handguns:

1524 fps — Walther P88-4 inch barrel

1374 fps — Glock 19-4 inch barrel

1508 fps — Browning Hi Power MK111-4.6 inch barrel

1496 fps — Beretta 92F-4.9 inch barrel

Fortunately we’ve got a Beretta 92 so we’ll see if we can get 1,500 feet per second out of this beast. We’ll also try it out of a Glock 17 Gen 4 and a Glock 26 Gen 4 just for fun.

Velocity Matters

With all the testing we’ve done with our Will It Expand series, we’ve come to appreciate the importance of that last extra bit of velocity when it comes to expansion performance. And Buffalo Bore delivers when it comes to velocity. We set up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master at 15 feet from the muzzle and clocked the following:

Beretta 92FS: 1,420 feet per second

Glock 17 Gen 4: 1,438 feet per second

Glock 26 Gen 4: 1,358 feet per second

Considering our Chrony was 15 feet downrange, the recorded velocity came in right as advertised.


Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ Tac-Xp expansion performance

This load displayed picture perfect expansion – post leather

We subjected the Buffalo Bore Barnes load to a pretty tough expansion challenge: 2 layers of heavy boot leather and several layers of cotton fabric (translation: old ratty t-shirts) in front of a dense paper wetpack bullet catcher. Of the four rounds we tested for expansion, all four expanded dramatically. Penetration was surprisingly good for a 95 grain projectile with 2 projectiles plowing about 7 inches into the dense wetpack after the leather barrier and the remaining two making it about 9 inches in.

Closing Thoughts

We were pleasantly surprised at the performance of this load. Felt recoil was shockingly light in all guns tested – especially so with the more hefty Beretta 92FS. Our wetpack was particularly dense so the 7 and 9 inch penetration post-barrier was impressive.

To be candid, we really wanted to test the 115 grain 9mm +P+ Barnes TAC-XP loads, but they are not available just yet. We’re looking forward to trying those out next.

This is a 4 Nuns load.

You can buy Buffalo Bore ammo here.

Ammo Review: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo: These Boots Were Made for Shootin’


This week’s episode of ‘Will It Expand’ undresses the heaviest of outerwear – leather. As we had no interest in perforating our nice leather coat, we elected to use an even tougher leather barrier – an old pair of Justin Boots.

So – stick with us here – the idea is to shoot hollow point ammunition through not one, or three, but two layers of very heavy leather and into our sophisticated special blend of ballistic testing material called wetpack which consists mostly of thoroughly soggy newspapers. Will traditional hollow point ammo expand? Will Hornady Critical Defense expand? Every time? Will we ever be able to wear these boots again? Is ammo-induced ventilation covered under warranty?

First up: Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special +P 110 grain

We shot the boot with a couple rounds of Critical Defense and a couple rounds of Cor-Bon .38 Special +P 110 grain JHP and Speer Gold Dots. We’ve found the Cor-Bon load to be excellent with sporadic observations of jacket / core separation. Gold Dots don’t separate due to their bonded construction and have an excellent record of expanding in reasonable material. Both the Cor-Bon and Gold Dot loads failed to expand properly after passing through two thick layers of foot-conditioned leather. The projectiles showed early indications of expansion but by no means blossomed to anywhere near their full potential. Kind of like Lindsay Lohan. Both Critical Defense rounds expanded, although one was far more photogenic than its sibling.

Next up: Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115 grain

Increased velocity helped all the 9mm contestants. The combination of a hotter and heavier load and a longer barreled pistol (Beretta 92FS) made a noticeable difference. We happened to have a box of Federal Premium 9mm Luger +P+ 124 grain Hydra-Shok on hand. These are marked ‘Law Enforcement Use Only’ but we figured this was important enough work to bend the rules a bit. Let’s keep that just between us, OK?

Anyway, everybody expanded AND was photogenic. Conclusions? Beats us, but it sure was fun.

And last but not least: Hornady Critical Defense .40 S&W 165 grain

This last test makes us wonder why we bother carrying anything but a .40 caliber. Lined up next to the .38 Specials and 9mm rounds, these all looked mighty impressive. Especially since all the tested rounds expanded perfectly.

We used three. The Critical Defense .40 S&W 165 grain, a DoubleTap Ammunition .40 S&W 165 grain Gold Dot, and a Winchester .40 S&W 165 grain T Series.

All performed as intended and seemed completely unaffected by conditioned and highly-polished boot leather.

What’s next? Let us know and we’ll shoot it.

You can buy Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty Ammunition here.

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