When it comes to modern personal defense ammo, there’s good news and bad news.
Good News: There are, at last count, 2,367,912 varieties of quality personal defense ammo on the market.
Bad News: There are, at last count, 2,367,912 varieties of quality personal defense ammo on the market.
Good News: Most of them are good.
Bad News: You can’t shop by brand only. Each caliber and brand should be evaluated separately depending on the gun and barrel length you choose. A load that expands reliably when shot from a 5″ barrel pistol may not when fired from a compact model with a 3″ barrel. Velocity matters after all, and each inch of barrel length can change velocity by 20 to 50 feet per second.
Good News: We’re freaks and love doing all this testing and verification work on your behalf. Of course you always need to make sure your ammo of choice functions properly in your specific gun.
Bad News: Justin Bieber is still a celebrity.
Good News: For you young bucks out there, Selena Gomez is back on the market.
Bad News: There are only 2,367,843 different loads of defense ammo left for us to test now that this one is done.
With all that said, we recently tested out the Winchester Elite PDX1 Defender .45 ACP 230 grain personal defense ammunition.
With all the comings and goings of test guns, we ended up testing out the Winchester PDX1 ammo in a full size 1911. In this case, a Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote. This model features a 5″ long barrel, so consider that we were getting maximum velocity for this particular load.
The Winchester PDX1 Defender ammunition is a bonded design. This simply means that, well, the outer jacket is chemically bonded to the inner lead core. I know, the terminology is pretty complex. There’s a really good reason for bonded bullet design. If projectiles pass through barriers like glass, wood, steel, clothing, or bone, then bonded ones tend to stay in one piece. Staying in one piece means they retain more weight while traveling into and through their intended target. Going back to high school physics, if more weight is retained, then penetration depth in increased. It’s mathematically sound. Do some multiplication, carry the one, then divide by the cost per box of twenty. Easy!
One unusual note about the Winchester PDX1 bonding design. The bottom of the projectile is “open” and you can see the lead, so it “looks” like more of a traditional jacketed projectile. No matter – just be aware that it’s bonded and not jacketed.
The Winchester PDX1 bullets are hollow points and scored for even expansion performance. Winchester claims that the projectiles will expand to 1.5 original diameter. According to the box, muzzle velocity is 920 feet per second which results in 432 foot-pounds of energy given the 230 grain projectile weight. Also according to the box, velocity at 5 yards should be 916 feet per second yielding 428 foot-pounds of energy.
We tested velocity at the range with a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph, placed 15 feet down range, and clocked a 1.3 boatloads of shots. If you need a translation, 1.3 boatloads is about 2 1/2 (20) round boxes. After doing some serious math, we figured the average velocity, launched from a 5″ barrel Springfield Armory TRP 1911, to be just about 911 feet per second – right in line with what the box says.
To see how these rounds expanded, we fired another boatload through 4 layers of light canvas and into a wet pack backstop. ‘Wet pack’ is derived from the latin words ‘wet’, meaning has water, and ‘pack’, meaning old newspapers that were cluttering up the office. As you can see from the photo, expansion was dramatic most of the time. Most rounds expanded to just over .80 inches while one in the photo expanded to .86 inches. And yes, you can see that one from Google Earth.
It probably goes without saying, but function was trouble-free. The cartridge cases are nickel-plated for visibility, slippery-ness, and corrosion resistance. And they’re fully reloadable if you’re into that.