When considering your choice of defensive ammunition, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Much like your choice of firearm for self-defense, the ammunition you use is important and you have to keep certain things in mind.
In my .357 Magnum, the defensive load I keep is the Federal Premium Personal Defense. I chose this round because of the lighter charge. This has a twofold effect. One, it reduces felt recoil which allows you to get back on target quickly. And two, it reduces penetration. Obviously, a 357 is going to carry risks as far as overpenetration are concerned. Even with the light charge, the bullet leaves the muzzle at about 1410 feet per second, and at 100 yards is still cruising at about 1138 feet per second. Stopping power, yes. Overpenetration issues…well, yes. But this round is terribly effective at shorter distances. And also consider that once a target is reached, the bullet will expand and slow down.
Now, barring a zombie apocalypse, I would reach for the 9mm first. Some ground given up in stopping power is gained in capacity. For this, I load the Hornady Critical Defense FTX. The bullet leaves the muzzle at 1140 feet per second, about where the 357 is after traveling 100 yards. The FTX from Hornady has a flex tip that is designed to solve the problems that some hollow-point rounds have where they do not always expand on impact. The flex tip prevents heavy clothing, such as denim layers or a leather jacket, from clogging the hollow point.
When you decide on a defensive round, consider who you are protecting, and what you anticipate yourself to be protecting them from. Think about your environment as well as your home. What are the walls made of, and who or what is on the other side of those walls? All of these factors must be considered, and then you can make an informed decision.
And remember, any round will hurt the bad guy. I think, in most cases, getting shot will make the bad guy stop what he is doing and leave.
Disclaimer: None of the ammunition companies mentioned here paid for an endorsement. Not that I would refuse money or free ammunition if they offered it, but they didn’t. I mention what I purchase and rely on to give the reader a view into my thinking on this matter.