Survey Report: On & Off-Duty Ammo Preferences

July 10, 2020
When given options as to caliber, manufacturer and type, what ammo reigns supreme in the law enforcement industry today? Our readers - 561 of them - gave us an answer.

During the months of March and April 2020, Officer Media Group conducted a survey to determine what the most popular on and off-duty ammunition types were. Our primary goal was to gather information on the current popularity of common ammunition for on and off duty: caliber, manufacturer, and model (if applicable). The only identifying information we asked of the respondents was the type of agency they worked for. 

The largest percentage of respondents (228 out of 561, or 40.6%) were employed by a municipality. That should be no surprise as the largest community of police officers work for cities and towns. The second largest group (139 out of 561, or 24.8%) work for counties. Given that roughly half of our law enforcement in the U.S. is provided by sheriffs and almost all of them are county elected officials (with a very few “independent cities,” the expectation was for a larger response from county law enforcement personnel. The third largest group of respondents were the combined state law enforcement officials that weighed in (124 out of 561, or 22%). Altogether, those three groups represent roughly 88% of all answers given for the survey.


The caliber choices for duty weapon included 9mm, .40S&W, .357Sig, 10mm, .45ACP, .38Spl, .357Mag, .44Spl, .44Mag and an “other” option that was barely used. In order of popularity the most common duty calibers are:

  • 9mm: 51%
  • .40S&W: 30%
  • .45ACP: 14%
  • .357Sig: 2.3%
  • The remaining 2.7% was divided up between .38Spl, .357Mag, 10mm and other calibers.

Manufacturer and type

As to the manufacturer and type of ammunition, we gave the respondents a choice of all of the following, shown in order of popularity (they were listed alphabetically in the survey):
  • SPEER Gold Dot / Gold Dot 2 – 32.27%
  • Winchester Ranger-T Series – 18.79%
  • Federal Premium Personal Defense HST – 14.18%
  • Hornady Critical Duty – 13.48%
  • Federal Hydra-Shok HP – 10.82%
  • Winchester PDX1 – 1.24%
  • SIG Sauer Elite Performance
  • V-Crown – 1.06%
  • Hornady XTP – 0.71%
  • Remington TAC-XPD – 0.71%
  • CORBON / Glaser Safety Slug – 0.18%
  • Underwood Xtreme Defender
  • Underwood Xtreme Penetrator
  • Underwood Maximum Expansion
  • Other

Doing the extrapolation of data, that makes—among our respondents—the 9mm SPEER Gold Dot / Gold Dot 2 the most widely used duty ammunition.

Off duty ammo

Moving to the off-duty section, we asked the same questions: caliber and manufacturer / type. We did add in .380ACP as an option for off-duty ammo. That was the only addition / adjustment to our options.

9mm still came in the highest at 65.48%. That indicates that some folks who are carrying .40S&W or .45ACP or some other caliber on duty are selecting to carry 9mm off-duty.

  • .40S&W was the second most popular off-duty round at 14.06%.
  • .45ACP was the third most popular off-duty round at 9.61%.
  • .380ACP was next on the list scoring 5.16% from our respondents.

After that, the .38Spl (2.67%) and the .357Mag (1.42%) scored above the .357Sig (0.36%) and 10mm (0.18%). It was a surprise to see revolver calibers come in more popular than semi-automatics for off-duty. In all fairness, the 10mm doesn’t really fit in a compact package and there are a good selection of snub-nose .357/.38 caliber revolvers. None of our respondents reported carrying .44Spl or .44Mag off-duty but there were some .45 Long Colts and 5.7mm weapons (divided up among the six “other” responses for off-duty weapons).

As to ammo manufacturer and type, the following is the list in order of percentage of response. Again, they were originally listed on the survey in alphabetical order.

  • SPEER Gold Dot / Gold Dot 2 – 28.01%
  • Hornady Critical Duty – 16.49%
  • Federal Premium Personal Defense HST – 15.43%
  • Winchester Ammunition Ranger-T Series – 14.01%
  • Federal Hydra-Shok HP – 10.11%
  • Hornady XTP – 2.48%
  • SIG Sauer Elite Performance
  • V-Crown – 2.13%
  • Winchester PDX1 – 1.24%
  • Remington TAC-XPD – 0.89%
  • Underwood Xtreme Defender – 0.53%
  • Underwood Xtreme
  • Penetrator – 0.18%
  • Underwood Maximum
  • Expansion – 0.18%
  • CORBON Glaser Safety Slug – 0.18%
  • Other – 8.16% (unspecified)

Once again, doing the data extrapolation for off-duty ammo, it appears as if the 9mm Speer Gold Dot / Gold Dot 2 is the most commonly carried. Based on ALL of this data, it appears as if the 9mm is the most commonly carried caliber of law enforcement weapon in America, on or off-duty.

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