Choosing the right pistol ammunition for your needs can be a challenging task, with hundreds of choices in each pistol caliber. To make an informed decision, it is important to understand the various types of ammo available and do your research. Reliability, testing, and comfort should all be taken into consideration when selecting defensive ammunition. Moreover, there are a lot of things that you need to take care of while choosing the correct ammo for your pistol.

Additionally, misinformation is often found on the internet, even from experienced shooters, so it is important to make sure you have accurate information when making your choice. That's why we've put together this comprehensive guide to help you make the right decision for your pistol ammo. Here are some of the best things you should consider when selecting the right pistol ammo for your shooting needs.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Pistol Ammo

Get the Right Caliber

Duh, right? Caliber is the barrel's diameter; if the ammo is too large, it won't fit in the chamber, and if it's too small, the ammunition could slip through the chamber and become lodged in the barrel, possibly causing an explosion. There is an abundance of totally false information on the web about whether your firearm is capable of shooting other calibers. Sometimes the information is partially true. An example would be that a firearm intended to shoot .40 can shoot 357 sig with a barrel change. Without swapping out the barrel, it won’t work. Or it will work and you’ll likely lose an extractor, blow out your mag and possibly disappear one of your fingers. Thinking of another example, a customer once brought us his rifle complaining of a “problem with his ammo”. We pulled a long skinny piece of extruded lead from his barrel and tried to help him sort through why the chamber of his firearm was blown to bits. As it turned out, he heard someone say “5.56 magazines are just fine for 300 Blackout.” What he interpreted from that was, “300 Blackout can be shot out of a rifle chambered for 5.56.” Assuming other calibers will work for you could result in serious damage to your gun. It's important to check your gun's owner's manual for the right caliber or have the gun inspected by a professional if you can’t find the barrel stamp indicating the barrel diameter.

Consider the Accuracy

Some bullets may perform better out of certain guns than others. Even if you get the latest and greatest ammo that is supposedly the most accurate in the universe, it may not work well with your gun. It’s a good idea to start with a small purchase of a few different bullet weights and profiles to check the performance of your ammo before you make any bulk purchases. Particularly with defensive rounds, it’s critical to test the accuracy and functionality before you’re in a life or death situation. The feed ramps on many firearms designed to conceal are short and steep and often unforgiving on a more angular hollow point bullet profile.

Know Your Purpose of Ammunition

The type of ammo you use will be determined by the firearm and the purpose for which it is being employed. For instance, if you are using a pistol for self-defense, you should opt for ammo that will penetrate and inflict maximum damage on the target. Most handgun rounds are used at fairly close range, so unless you’re shooting competitively, performance at longer range isn’t something to consider. However, when hunting or precision shooting, the better choice would be ammo that offers adequate long range accuracy. In rifles, it's important to know that different barrels offer different rates of bullet rotation; a good match is critical to longer range consistency.

Determine Your Function- Understanding Bullet Profiles

Shooting your weapon can be done for various reasons, such as target practice, hunting, or self-defense. For target practice, you want to look for affordable FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) ammunition, which is a copper shell filled with soft lead. However, for hunting or self-defense, FMJ is not suitable as it can pass through the target and potentially hurt anyone in its path. A better choice is hollow point or soft point, both intended to immediately expand and stop after penetration. These hollow points will create a larger wound and transfer energy into the target to prevent it from going through.

Capacity and Price

The final factor to consider is your gun's capacity. This refers to the number of rounds the gun/magazine can hold at any one time. So if you purchase yourself a Yosemite Sam 44 Mag, a 50 round box of ammo will likely last you multiple range sessions. However, if you're a 9mm Glock buyer with a big stick mag, your double stack mag can hold 24 rounds, which you'll undoubtedly blow through in a hot minute of semi-auto fun.  While carrying a heavy hitting semi-auto like 10mm or 45ACP might put an extra stamp in your man card, it's just not very cost effective if you like to shoot frequently. That said, if you're a semi-auto guy/gal that wants a lot of range time inexpensively, we strongly encourage you to consider the remanufactured version of these calibers. 


 Every pistol requires a specific kind of ammo, and it is vital to only use that type in order to guarantee safety and precision when shooting. The market offers a variety of ammo selections, so make sure to research before picking one. Additionally, remember to check the local laws related to purchasing and using guns, and restrictions related to certain ammo types. Now that you have these tips in mind, we release you to the wild to select the ideal ammo for your firearm. 

Defender Ammunition is your go-to for all your ammo needs. We have a wide variety of calibers and top-notch customer service. Check out our selection of Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, and Shotgun Ammo to find exactly what you're looking for.