In my review of the Remington 1911 R1 Ultralight Executive .45 — one of the very best carry 1911s on the market, especially for the price — I promised a more extensive review of the new Remington Golden Saber Black Belt JHP loads. I was testing outside during a big snowfall and really didn’t want to take the time to chronograph and clay-block-test the newest version of Remington’s self-defense ammunition. But I always keep a promise, so here it is.

Premier Defense

The Golden Saber line has long been Remington’s premier defensive handgun ammunition and was originally designed as a law enforcement round — one that would be capable of passing the FBI law enforcement duty ammunition protocols. It was basically Remington’s answer to the groundbreaking Speer Gold Dot bullet. The FBI protocols are all based on test rounds being fired into “ballistic gelatin,” simulating the body. Ammo is fired into bare gelatin for initial results, before commonly encountered barrier material — clothing, drywall, angled auto glass, sheet metal and plywood — is placed over or in front of the gelatin blocks. This is done to determine if the bullets will still expand in the gelatin after penetrating the barrier or if the nose cavity will plug and prevent expansion (which basically means that the bullet might as well be a full metal jacket load in terms of stopping power).

The Golden Saber Black Belt load is the latest iteration of the original Golden Saber load and, like the original, it is available to civilians as well as law enforcement personnel. It is one of the most technologically developed “conventional” hollow-point loads on the market. It is quite an impressive design.

Brass Where It Counts

The Golden Saber Black Belt bullet retains the famous brass jacket — rather than traditional copper — for toughness. A key requirement for any law enforcement duty ammunition is for the jacket and core to remain intact when fired through hard barrier material, which the brass jacket construction helps Golden Saber ammunition achieve.

This ammo has been deemed “Black Belt” — not for anything having to do with martial arts but for the “Mechani-Lokt” belt, which is black in color, that wraps over the hourglass-shaped center portion of the bullet. This belt locks the lead to the brass jacket in the rear portion of the bullet to keep it intact when it encounters tough barriers. At the very rear of the bullet is a “driving band” that helps firmly engage the bullet to the bore to improve accuracy. If you ever wonder why premium self-defense ammo is premium priced, look no further than what goes into the design and manufacture of these high-tech projectiles.

Put It to the Test

For this test, I again used the R1 Ultralight Executive .45 as the test launcher. Golden Saber Black Belt ammo only has one weight in .45 ACP — 230 grains — which kept testing simple.

Here are the results of the chronograph test. Note the velocity loss of the 3.5-inch .45 barrel over the standard 5-inch .45 barrel:

Remington Golden Saber
Black Belt 230-grain JHP
Barrel Length Velocity Muzzle Energy
Factory 5 inches 875 fps 391 FPE
Tested 3.5 inches 730 fps 272 FPE


I completed my test by firing a single Golden Saber Black Belt into a 25-pound block of moist modeling clay from a distance of 15 feet. The bullet entered the 10-inch-long block dead center, and portions of it exited. The bullet impact expanded the exterior of the block. The maximum diameter of the cavity was 3.5 inches. The cavity decreased to a diameter of 1 inch at the exit point. While the cavity diameter is not as spectacular as higher-velocity rounds, there is no doubt that the .45-caliber Golden Saber Black Belt will do the job.

Again, recoil of the Golden Saber Black Belt was relatively mild from the Ultralight Executive, and muzzle blast was low. Sure, you could go to a higher-velocity load, but the shooting experience would not be as conducive to accurately placing your shots. It is critically important that any self-defense load you fire be a round that you don’t dread shooting, and this one is pleasant to shoot. Any 230-grain FMJ .45 load should perfectly duplicate the mild recoil and blast levels of the Golden Saber for practice use. I would have perfect confidence in it as a carry load. By the way, the Hatcher RSP for the 124-grain 9mm Golden Saber is 41. Just sayin’.