Names can be deceiving. Take Federal’s Guard Dog line of “Home Defense” ammunition, available in calibers 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. While the name Guard Dog ties into the concept of home defense, it is also limiting, which might lead people to believe that this round is only good for home defense purposes. Clearly, it is a VERY capable all-around defensive load—equally useful for concealed carry permit holders and off-duty cops.
It is hard these days to go wrong when selecting ammo for your self-defense guns. The truth is, any modern controlled expansion round will perform well in any reasonable ballistic test. However, not all of them will meet the stringent FBI protocols for law enforcement ammunition—and for use by civilians or off-duty cops, they really don’t need to.
FBI Testing Protocols
The FBI protocols involve shooting test ammo into calibrated ballistic gelatin test block. Tested loads are fired into gelatin that is bare, covered with light clothing, or blocked by drywall, plywood, sheet metal, or angled windshield glass. To pass the test, the bullet must breach the barrier material and hold together in a reasonable fashion when it hits the gelatin block. It should not over-penetrate it, with a 10- to 12-inch depth of penetration considered ideal. Normally a civilian permit holder will not or should not be shooting through barrier materials at a criminal, and neither will an off-duty cop—except in cases of dire emergency. Unlike situations encountered by on-duty cops, the situations for permit holders or off-duty cops usually involve rapidly unfolding, close physical proximity encounters without intervening barriers. No need to use more expensive ammo that meets or exceeds FBI protocols. You can use it if you want to—or if you can get it—but the need is not essential.
Testing 9mm Caliber
I obtained a sample of Federal Premium’s Guard Dog Home Defense Ammo in 9mm caliber. The Guard Dog Home Defense line departs from the norm in that there is no exposed hollow-point cavity. The bullet cavity is covered by the nickel-plated bullet jacket, and filled by a blue nylon plug. The purpose of this design is to ensure good expansion of the bullet when it hits a soft target—thus reducing over-penetration.
The projectile itself weighs 105 grains in 9mm caliber, 135 grains in .40 S&W, and 165 grains in .45 ACP. All three bullets are lighter than standard weight, giving each caliber an edge in velocity and a stronger guarantee of expansion. Velocity in the 9mm loading is 1235 fps.
I had previously fired the 9mm Guard Dog while testing a pistol and found it to be accurate to 100 yards. This time I was testing ballistics of the round, and fired it into my standard 12-inch by 8-inch modeling clay test medium from a distance of 15 feet. The results were impressive.
I used my Century Arms Canik 55 9mm pistol for the test shot. The bullet hit dead center and expanded the sides of the block outward. Several pieces of clay blew back on me, which normally does not happen. I sectioned the block and found that the Guard Dog Home Defense load penetrated to a depth of 11 inches, without any part of the bullet exiting the block. It created a 4-inch maximum diameter cavity after entry. The bullet split into three components—the sharp edged expanded jacket, the blue nylon plug, and the lead core. All were found together and did not take a divergent path. You can see the bullet parts in the attached photo—bullet path was from left to right.
I like this load. I like its accuracy, feeding reliability, and performance, and I like it for home defense and concealed carry! For more information, go to: www.federalpremium.com.