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Why are we even contemplating carrying something smaller than a .45 ACP anyway? One good reason is the fact that bathing suits and Kimbers generally don’t mix without gun packs.

Cor-Bon lists the 110-grain DPX cartridge at 1200 fps, which is pretty fast for a .38 Special. My tests showed this specification was not the optimistic performance through a test barrel under ideal conditions. It approaches this velocity in my 2-inch barrel handgun. Whew!

Finally, 9mm cartridges have almost reached parity with their bigger brothers in the past dozen years. I used my FNP-9 to test them and confirmed my reason for carrying Winchester’s RA9BA, a 124-grain bonded cartridge. My second choice is Remington’s GSB9MMD. The company’s brass jacketed 124-grain JHP. Both of these cartridges excelled in weight retention and penetration after an intermediate barrier. They are both suitable for the tiny 9mm products that have become popular for backup pistols, like Kahr’s 14-ounce PM9.

I shot plenty of cartridges and mixed plenty of gelatin for these tests. Some of the conclusions about the dramatic improvements in cartridge design is very promising, especially the new Hornady Critical Defense .22 Magnum cartridges. I think it is safe to say that ammunition manufacturers have improved officer safety for us, but remember to always have a backup ... to your backup.

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