Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Bonded Bullets Work Best And You’ll Have To Just Deal With It

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

New breeds of carry ammunition come out at a fairly steady clip, promising all sorts of benefits over traditional hollow point rounds. Oooh, look at this or that one, some person says; it opens up to cut like a broadhead. That will surely put down a nasty person with one shot! And so on and so forth.

A couple of different novelty carry rounds come out every year that some of the public and the press goes nuts for but usually fall quickly out of favor. Modern bonded hollow points are just better. This works both on the level of hunting rounds and also carry rounds, like what a person would put in a carry gun in a concealed carry holster.

Whether you’re in the field or in the streets, a good bonded bullet is just better. It’s been proven in both defensive and officer-involved shootings and by hunters in the field, time and again. If you’re looking for a good carry round, these would be the ones to look into if you handload or when looking at off-the-shelf ammunition.

For those unaware, a bonded bullet differs from the traditional cup-and-core hollowpoint by bonding the lead core to the copper jacket. Bonded bullets either fill the jacket with molten lead thereby welding it to the jacket, or electrochemically plate the lead core. Some bonded bullets involve a proprietary process that differs from those two methods, but those are the basic methods.

The benefit of a bonded bullet is greater structural rigidity, with the end result being expansion with the petals of a cup and core hollow point but with better weight retention and often enough, deeper penetration, including through barriers, bone and dense hide. A frequent failing of cup and core hollowpoints before the advent of bonded hollowpoints was fragmenting when encountering bone or other barriers; in game hunting, non-bonded bullets were similarly known for lacking performance when encountering bone and heavy hide.

Granted, there are plenty of non-bonded bullets that work close to or as well as some of the best bonded bullets. However, the best of the non-bonded rounds are usually heralded for having terminal ballistic performance akin to a bonded bullet, so clearly the balance between penetration, expansion and weight retention is desirable.

Ask hunters, and you’ll hear rave reviews about the Swift A-Frame among the dangerous game set. Plenty of big game hunters also have great success with Remington Core Lokt Ultra Bonded cartridges, Nosler AccuBond and Hornady InterBond bullets as well. For the budget set, Federal Fusion ammunition is a fantastic budget round; while not match-grade by any means, a good number of people have found it to rival ammunition commanding a much higher premium.

Not that good hunting rounds have to be bonded; Remington Core Lokt isn’t bonded, but is considered one of the best of the widely available commercial hunting rounds. Also, no discussion of hunting ammunition would be complete without mentioning the Nosler Partition, a perpetual favorite among game hunters for more than 60 years. Both are known for good penetration, controlled expansion and weight retention; the same attributes as bonded bullets.

As to carry rounds, the first bonded hollowpoint that really made a big splash was the Speer Gold Dot, a very popular round among civilian carriers and law enforcement. CorBon also helped pioneer bonded bullets. Other popular examples include Winchester’s Ranger T-Series, PDX-1, SXT and Golden Saber, and then there’s also Hornady Critical Duty. Federal HST is an odd hybrid between bonded and non-bonded rounds, but is also regarded as excellent.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide issue Gold Dot, HST and Ranger T-Series (among others) and have gotten great results with them. The reason why? They work.

Granted, improvements are made in ammunition all the time, so it may be that the wheel gets reinvented in a few decades. For now? Bonded controlled-expansion bullets rule the roost for game and bonded hollow points are the standard for defensive ammunition, and for good reason.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.