10mm Ammo Buyer’s Guide [2021]

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Are you a believer that the size and weight of bullets matter? Despite 9mm rounds enjoying all the popularity, one can’t deny the appeal and damage that 10mm rounds are capable of. The best 10mm ammo is still relevant to this day. And many homeowners and hunters prefer it for its power and reliability in the field. If you have a big gun at home, here are some 10mm rounds that might make it a more dangerous weapon.

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How to Choose the Best 10mm Ammo

Picking the best 10mm ammo for bear defense or self-defense is a bit different as opposed to other rounds. Aside from pondering over the specifications, there are some additional factors that can influence your decision.

Determine the Role

Although the FBI stopped using 10mm rounds a long time ago, it wasn’t for lack of stopping power. Consider the fact that even a well-placed 9mm round may be enough to stop a grizzly bear in its tracks.

The 10mm has superior power and the ability to inflict damage. Therefore, it’s ideal for bush or home defense. That said, you may want different rounds if all you do is practice on the range, or if you train for competitive shooting.

Even if you do want to shoot nothing but 10mm rounds, you still have to check the specs to find the right fit. For example, in self-defense applications, you won’t care about the weight of the bullet. But you might think twice about the round’s weight for range training and shooting at paper targets.

Consider the Recoil

Many shooters associate 10mm ammunition with a punishing recoil given its use in larger handguns. Yet that’s not always the case since all bullets are not equal. Some 10mm rounds don’t have the same stout recoil. And of course, your choice of gun matters too.

Look at the specifics of the rounds to find out just how fast they are and how much power they have. This should give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of recoil.

Pricing Considerations

When shopping for 10mm ammo, you may need to take into account the cost, much more so than with other types of rounds. Since law enforcement stopped using 10mm bullets and switched to 10mm lite first and then to 9mm, 10mm rounds have become rarer and rarer.

These bullets have higher manufacturing costs for the lower scale of production, so they don’t offer the best deal on the market.

Personal Preferences

In my experience, I’ve often heard large handguns being referred to as do-it-all pistols. You can use them in tactical situations, for hunting, and home defense. Yet few consider them specialized firearms anymore.

Because of this, I think that personal preferences should matter a lot when choosing your ideal 10mm rounds. You don’t always need to aim for maximum performance but perhaps for added comfort when handling your weapon.

Bullet Design

Two types of bullet designs stand out more than others. The FMJ and JHP. FMJ projectiles are full metal jacket bullets. These don’t have a significant rate of expansion, if at all, in a range of situations. The speed and penetrating power of FMJ rounds are usually superior as a result.

JHP rounds, on the other hand, are jacketed hollow point rounds that inflict maximum damage. These projectiles peel back the outer jacket as they come into contact with the target. This means that they expand after impact and inflict more extensive wounds.

But not all hollow point rounds have the same effect. The design of the jacket matters a lot. The best bullets in this category have a controlled rate of expansion. The controlled rate is designed to prevent premature bursting when the bullet hits a thick hide or clothing.

To find the most powerful 10mm ammo, you need to consider the type of projectile too. Ideally, you want 10mm hunting ammo since those rounds can go through pretty much any attacker (human or big game animal).


The grain is a unit of measurement. Manufacturers use it to indicate the mass of a bullet. The mass is an important aspect as it influences everything from stopping power to round velocity and weight retention.

The grain also affects the recoil, when combined with other aspects of the bullet’s anatomy. So, if you worry about the punishing kickback of 10mm rounds in a powerful handgun, a lower grain bullet may be a better fit for you.

Best 10mm Ammo

Federal Premium Personal Defense Hydra-Shok

These 10mm rounds come in at 180 grains and 20 bullets per box. If it’s stopping power you want, the Hydra-Shok doesn’t disappoint. The ballistic performance is off the charts.

Federal Premium Personal Defense 10mm Auto 180gr Hydra-Shok JHP Handgun Ammo - 20 Rounds

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Federal Premium rates these rounds at 1030 fps muzzle velocity and 424 ft.lbf muzzle energy. The bullets can cause serious damage. Although these come highly recommended for self-defense, I see no reason you can’t use them for hunting large game too.

Used in the right handgun, the accuracy should be more than impressive. The hollow point bullet design promotes a controlled rate of expansion. And, thanks to the unique notching on the copper jacket, the rate of expansion is uniform. Controlled expansion allows for deeper penetration and creates larger wounds.

Note that the recoil isn’t too powerful, either. This is something that might suit beginner shooters or anyone that wants to fire competition-style at the range.

For rounds designed more than three decades ago, the Hydra-Shok is still fully capable of stopping threats in any environment.


  • Lower recoil
  • Uniform expansion
  • Good weight retention and accuracy
  • Great penetration


  • Harder to find in stores

Hornady Custom 10mm Rounds

These Hornady bullets come in boxes of 20 rounds. The custom design offers superior muzzle velocity and energy compared to bullets of similar mass.


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What I like the most about these rounds is the bullet style. The Hornady XTP hollow point has one of the best expansion rates in this caliber range. And that’s not just at the top speed of 1180 fps. The same uniform expansion characteristics remain at lower velocities.

Such a trait offers the Hornady rounds an edge over traditional plated bullets. Of course, the bullets are as accurate as the gun you fire them from. Thus, I recommend the Glock 20 or G40 MOS. Both make great pairings with these, especially when used with custom sights.

Hornady also guarantees superior firing consistency. You can shoot hundreds of rounds without a misfire or other kind of malfunction. Consistency is not as easy to come by these days, particularly in the 10mm caliber range.


  • Ideal Glock bullets
  • Very high speed
  • Improves accuracy at up to 50 yards
  • Consistent rate of expansion


  • Strong recoil for beginners

Winchester 10mm X10MMSTHP

Winchester silvertip jacketed hollow point bullets. Need I say more? Don’t worry, I will. These 10mm rounds cause massive damage because they expand upon hitting the target.


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At the same time, you benefit from a more manageable recoil when using them. As opposed to other rounds in this caliber, Winchester opted for 175-grain bullets. Even so, the muzzle velocity of 1,290 feet per second is hard to beat.

However, that’s Winchester’s test condition rating. Under real-life conditions, the speed will be considerably lower. But, it doesn’t affect the penetration capabilities because of the superior overall design of the bullet.

Although the muzzle energy of 649 ft-lb sounds hard to handle, the lighter weight helps with the recoil. As long as you also use a good gun and mind your stance. These bullets are well-rounded.

In fact, I recommend them for competitive shooting and range practice too. That doesn’t mean that these can’t be your best 10mm ammo for bear defense, personal security, and hunting applications.

Another prime candidate for reloading your Glock 20. And, it comes at a considerable discount compared to most premium 10mm rounds.


  • Consistent performance at up to 50 yards
  • Superior penetration power
  • Rapid release for maximum weight retention
  • Consistent fragmentation


  • Real velocity lower than advertised

Buffalo Bore Heavy 10mm FMJ Flat Nose Ammo

Flat nose bullets are a great way to approach target practice. They also help with chamber maintenance in the long run. But does this mean that Buffalo Bore doesn’t make some of the most powerful 10mm ammo?

Not by a longshot.


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This is heavy-duty handgun ammunition. It’s rated at 200 grains, which means that the stopping power is off the charts. Any rounds rated at 1200 fps and 639 ft-lb are what I’d call top-notch.

These bullets pass off easily as performance and protection ammo. The flat nose design allows for easier score tracking. It also prevents setting off primers from the recoil shock.

Thanks to the full metal jacket design, the penetration power is nothing short of impressive. You don’t have to worry about not inflicting damage on big game animals with thick hides. That said, there is no rate of expansion to speak of.

I also like that despite these being 200-grain bullets, they work well with most 10mm caliber pistols.


  • Good value for the performance
  • High-speed bullets
  • Flat nose design for safety and convenience
  • Superior weight retention


  • Heavy on the recoil

Buffalo Bore 10mm Barnes TAC-XP Ammo

Are you a Buffalo Bore loyalist? Can you afford something pricier to get a boost in performance and convenience? If so, you may want to consider the Barnes TAC-XP rounds.


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These bullets are tactical medium-duty rounds. They weigh 155 grains and benefit from a low flash and recoil. Plenty of stopping power but less effort to group successive shots from a big handgun.

The brass and copper combination does a good job. Thanks to the maximum velocity of 1350 fps and superior control, you can excel in match shooting with these rounds. Surprisingly, even the muzzle energy released is impressive at 627 ft-lb. That takes care of weight retention, which is great due to the lower grain of the bullets.

Although pricier, few bullets match the Barnes TAC-XP rounds in stopping aggressive threats. Many view them as the best 10mm ammo, and not just for bear defense but for hunting in general. What’s even better is the fact that they aren’t as rare as other popular 10mm rounds.


  • Ideal in hunting applications
  • Low recoil and superior penetration
  • Low flash and easy follow-through
  • Convenient to use and reload


  • Bullets don’t seem to work very well with the Glock 20
  • Pricier than most

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Costs and bullet traits are important to consider when choosing the best 10mm ammo. And, if you want the best performance, you sometimes have to pay a bit more. Personally, I think that the Buffalo Bore Barnes TAC-XP ammo may serve you best in the 10mm caliber range.

These bullets aren’t the rarest or hardest to find. And, the lower coil and flash are attributes that prove useful in a variety of applications. With the stopping power unquestionable, and its overall performance proven, only the asking price may be a small deterrent for some users.

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Hi there, I'm Brady and I'm the owner of GunMade.com. I have been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since I moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. It's my passion to share my knowledge and expertise to help you find the best guns in your price range.

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