ADS | Critical Defense vs. Critical Duty: Know the Difference
background image

Critical Defense vs. Critical Duty: Know the Difference

Critical Defense and Critical Duty bullets are similar in their characteristics, but with slight differences. While Critical Defense bullets are designed for use in compact pistols, Critical Duty bullets are suited to full-sized handguns. They use heavier bullets and heavier powder charges than Critical Defense ammunition, resulting in less recoil and a more accurate feel. As a result, these ammunition loads are the best choice for security guards, law enforcement, and other professionals who regularly carry full-sized handguns.

Critical Defense ammunition by Hornady is:

  • Designed for personal protection/ concealed carry and is loaded with a patented FTX bullet.

  • FTX bullets deliver superior controlled expansion, even in thick clothing.

  • Created to be non-restrictive and are compatible with any handgun caliber

On the other hand, Critical Duty ammunition:

  • Designed for law enforcement officers and other law enforcement personnel.

  • Optimized for short-barrel performance, as per FBI protocol.

  • Design helps avoid over-penetration

  • Created to be used with any handgun but optimized when use in full-sized handguns

Critical Defense Handgun Ammunition

Critical Defense handgun ammunition is designed with a polymer plug in its bullet cavity. This plug creates an outward force in the bullet's cavity, allowing it to expand in a controlled manner. The polymer plug also prevents debris from entering the bullet's cavity. These properties help to make Critical Defense handgun ammunition an excellent choice for self-defense.

Critical Defense handgun ammunition uses a 100-grain Hornady FTX bullet, which produces a muzzle velocity of 1250 fps and 347ft/lb of muzzle energy. The nickel-plated cases allow it to feed easily and comfortably in most handguns. Additionally, it is highly visible in low-light situations.

Designed with FBI protocols in mind, makes it a wonderful choice for concealed carry handguns. The bullets are streamlined for short-barreled handguns, which makes them ideal for home defense and law enforcement officers in certain situations.

It’s made specifically for concealed carry guns and delivers controlled expansion, large wound cavities, and proven performance in short-barreled handguns. Premium low-flash propellants ensure consistent expansion and have proven themselves in a variety of handguns. They are also packaged in boxer-primed reloadable brass cases.

Critical Defense handgun ammunition is perfect for concealed carry, backup weapons, and off-duty use. Its bullets deliver controlled expansion and reduce the chance of over-penetration. The patented FTX bullets also do not clog clothing, allowing for accurate chamber checks even in dim lighting conditions.

When purchasing Critical Defense handgun ammunition, be sure to select the appropriate bullet caliber for your particular handgun. It is important to understand how bullet expansion works, as it impacts different materials. Generally, a bullet that is a minimum of 1.5 inches in ballistic gelatin expands more than a bullet that is twice its original diameter.

Critical Duty Handgun Ammunition

Critical Duty handgun ammunition is specifically designed to provide a high level of performance in full-sized handguns. Its lead core is designed for deeper penetration into the target. This bullet is made from the same lead used in Hornady rifle bullets and is encased in a heavy copper jacket. They designed this type of ammunition for law enforcement professionals, but it also has a broad range of applications among civilians.

Critical Duty handgun ammunition features Hornady's patented FlexLock bullet. This bullet incorporates revolutionary Hornady features to provide superior barrier penetration. This allows the bullet to expand uniformly through most common urban barriers and is an integral part of the bullet's performance; it has been tested and proven in FBI tactical handgun ammunition tests.

They designed the FlexLock bullet to be used in handgun ammunition with a concealed carry permit. Its innovative design incorporates a malleable polymer nose plug, which reduces the chances of the hollow point fragmenting as it passes through clothing. Additionally, it contains a locked-on thicker jacket, which is helpful in reaching and penetrating harder barriers. In testing, this bullet expands 1.2 to 1.6 times its original diameter.

Critical Duty handgun ammunition is a fantastic choice for law enforcement professionals who use their weapons for service and protection. These bullets have a high rate of penetration and can penetrate various materials, including auto glass, sheet metal, and other barriers. Moreover, they expand with a reliable amount of energy, making them the perfect choice for service use.

< Back to Blog


Tell us what you're looking for.

When do you need this quote?

Thank you for your interest in ADS. Unfortunately, we cannot process your request. ADS does not sell to sole proprietors or ship to residential addresses. Please contact Tactical Distributors at 1.866.916.6905 or for further assistance.

*By selecting "Text" option, you authorize ADS to communicate with you via SMS/text messaging.

Tell us your delivery destination.

Please provide your organization's shipping address

ADS cannot accept personal/residential shipping addresses

Tell us your purchase method or budget.
ADS cannot accept personal funds

Campaign Information

All customers have access to their rep during business hours, or an emergency line at 866.845.3012 any other time. We are here when you need us.


Emails, phone calls and texts will be returned within one business day.




Over a quarter of our employees are Veterans. We have first-hand knowledge of the challenges you face and how important it is to be available and responsive when you need us.


Not only is ADS headquartered in a military town, but most of our staff have a military family. Because of that, customer satisfaction feels personal. That’s why we are committed to doing what we say we’re going to do.


We understand you have a choice when deciding where to buy what you need. Our goal is to provide service that is second-to-none—so you don’t think twice about calling us first.


We will only commit when we are 100% confident we can follow through. This means, we'll provide a quote only if we know we can meet your time constraints.


We commit to meeting or exceeding our customers’ delivery requirements.