As a full-time cop in Ohio, many years ago, I became dissatisfied with the six-round ammo capacity of my off-duty .38 Special Colt Agent snub-nosed revolver. Because of my youthful desire to have the newest and best gear, my latest object of desire was the brand-new, all stainless steel Smith & Wesson Model 659 9mm handgun.

When I got it, I loaded up and went out to the movies with some friends, feeling totally prepared for anything. What I wasn’t prepared for was 38.3 ounces of bulk. I remember sitting in the theater and getting uncomfortable almost immediately, squirming in my chair nearly the entire time. I never carried that 659 again.

The events of 2020 and 2021 have certainly fueled my desire to carry powerful, high-capacity semi-automatic pistols again. However, situations where I have to stand or walk for long periods of time can get uncomfortable these days and require lighter-weight handguns.

When standing or walking, I prefer to carry compact full-power polymer or aluminum-framed guns. The two I carry most often are my S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact and my .40 caliber Glock 27. While they are both relatively light to begin with, I still wanted to shave off all the weight I could. It was time to look at an ammo change.

Liberty Civil Defense Ammo

I have tested a number of Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense loads over the years and find they deliver a potentially devastating blow. To date, I’ve tested the .380 ACP, 9mm, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum and 10mm loadings.

Liberty Civil Defense ammo rounds use a light-for-the-caliber bullet, ranging from 50 to 78 grains, and propel to 2 ½ times normal velocity. Civil Defense bullets are lead free, copper monolithic, nickel-plated hollow-points loaded in nickel-plated cases. The bullets penetrate to an adequate depth before the hydraulic pressure causes the hollow-point to explode into five to ten or more fragments, traveling in individual destructive paths. The bullets nearly totally disintegrate in moist modeling clay. I also fully tested the .40 S&W load while determining how much the weight of my Glock 27 could be reduced by switching loads.

The .40 S&W load is listed as launching its 60-grain bullet at 2,000 feet per second at the muzzle, which develops 500 foot-pounds of energy. Standard 165-grain .40 S&W ammo develops around 430 foot-pounds of energy when driven at 1,090 feet per second.

I checked zero on the Glock 27 at 21 feet on a silhouette. The single round fired landed dead center on the silhouette’s “nose.” Good enough. Recoil was notable for its mildness. Firing over my chronograph produced a still impressive average of 1,812 feet per second and 438 foot-pounds of energy from the 3.4-inch barrel.

The bullet fragments penetrated to a depth of approximately 11 inches, blowing a cavity measuring 5.5-plus inches at its widest point.

Next up was the clay block. When the bullet hit, the sides of the block bulged out, and the right side ruptured.  The only thing left that remotely resembled a bullet was the base of the slug. The bullet exploded in a “starburst” pattern, as Liberty calls it, in various directions through the block. This promises reduced ricochet potential.

Weight Savings in Liberty Ammo

So, what kind of weight savings can be expected? Every ounce counts. And the larger the round, the more weight saved. In order to determine the weight saved on the Glock 27, my wife allowed me the use of her digital kitchen scale.

The Glock 27 with no magazine in place weighed in at 20.4 ounces. When I added a magazine loaded with eight rounds of 165-grain SIG Sauer V-Crown .40 caliber ammo, the weight increased to 26.9 ounces. Loading an eight-round magazine of Liberty Ammo, the weight dropped to 25 ounces total. That’s a weight savings of nearly 2 ounces. Though that doesn’t sound like much, it can add up, and I can feel the difference.

The weight of Civil Defense cartridges is distributed more equally across their length. They aren’t as front-heavy as standard bullets. Subjectively, this seems to even the balance out across the entire pistol. Loading up my spare Glock 23 magazine with 12 rounds of Civil Defense loads reduced the weight of the magazine from 8.4 ounces down to 6 ounces, making the total reduction in carry load 4.4 ounces. I will gladly take that! My M&P 9mm Compact is also loaded with Liberty Ammo these days.

Wrap Up

Liberty Ammunition offers numerous advantages over conventional loads. Liberty’s goal is to “eliminate threats with one round.” It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an ammunition company speak of the “one-shot-stop.” But I have no doubt there exists good potential for that with a solid torso hit from Liberty Civil Defense Ammunition.

Liberty is offering a new variation of their defensive ammo that weighs even less per round: the Ultra-Lights line. So far, it is only available in .380 and 9mm+P.


Liberty Ammunition: