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Best 10mm Ammo Buyer’s Guide [Self-Defense, Hunting, & More]

10mm Auto was first introduced in 1983. It wasn’t particularly popular right out of the gates, but brief use by the FBI helped draw it into the public eye. 

While 10mm hasn’t managed to stay consistently popular since then, this powerful, versatile round does have a growing cult following.

Whether you’re a member of that cult or are just curious about 10mm and looking to learn more, this guide will walk you through the best 10mm ammo options currently on the market.

But first, let’s take a look at why people opt for 10mm in the first place.

BEST 10MM AMMO

  • Federal Premium American Eagle 10mm Auto 180 Grain FMJ
  • Remington UMC 10mm Auto 180-grain FMJ
  • Hornady 10mm Auto 175-gr FlexLock Critical Duty
  • Federal Premium Personal Defense Hydra-Shok 10mm Auto
  • Hornady Custom 10mm Auto 180 gr XTP 
  • Federal Premium 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw JSP 
  • Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 gr. Hard Cast FN

WHY 10MM?

10mm is a versatile round that’s great for all kinds of purposes. While it’s most popular for self-defense, it can be used for competition, recreational shooting, home defense, hunting medium to large game, and even as a bear gun. 

It’s not as popular as some other rounds, but it’s popular enough that you can find it in a good variety of different types of ammunition (as you’ll see in our recommendations below). 

10mm rifle review - Hi-Point.
Hi-Point Carbine in 10mm

Still, you’ll need to shop online to really see the breadth of options available to you, as the round still isn’t popular enough to merit brick-and-mortar stores allocating limited shelf space for a bunch of different choices. 

Since I mentioned its applications for bears, you’ve probably already guessed that 10mm is powerful. Certainly far more powerful than 9mm but also more powerful than .45 ACP. Of course, that comes at the expense of some significant recoil, but not that much more than you’d expect from .45.

And since 10mm is closer to 9mm in size, you get capacities closer to 9mm too. You can generally expect a full-size 10mm pistol to have a capacity of between 8 and 15 rounds. 

10mm does tend to be significantly more expensive than 9mm, but only a little more than .45 ACP.

CHOOSING AMMO

Now that you know why you might want to go with 10mm, let’s look at how to choose the right round for you. 

Purpose 

What exactly you’ll be using it for is one of the most basic considerations for choosing any ammo, but especially so for a round as versatile as 10mm. Thus, it’s also the basis on which I’ve sorted my ammo recommendations below. 

And it ties into a lot of the other considerations that we touch on below, so we’ll be getting into more detail about what the purpose of your ammo means for the traits it should have in a second.

Make it a goal to be able to dive into your ammo stash like Scrooge McDuck. As we’ve seen from recent years, availability can be fickle.

For now, just think about what you’ll be using it for. Hunting and defense are both very common uses for 10mm, but what they require from ammunition is slightly different. If you’re using ammo for either of these things, you’ll also want ammunition for training. And then, of course, there are also people who just want to shoot recreationally. 

Price

As we’ve already covered, 10mm is costlier than more popular handgun rounds. Unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, you’ll probably, therefore, want to keep costs as low as possible to avoid draining your wallet. 

That means you’ll want to invest in ammo for purposes like hunting and defense, but you can cut costs with more budget ammo for plinking and training. 

Recoil

Even within the same caliber, not all ammo has equal recoil. Since 10mm is a heavily recoiling round, a lot of shooters like to save themselves a bit of pain by opting for a 10mm round that recoils less. 

Looking at the round’s energy specs will give you a rough idea of how much recoil you can expect, but there are also recoil calculators online that you can put more detailed information about the round and your gun into to get a more accurate idea. 

Bullet Weight

Bullet weight is measured in a unit called grains. The more grains, the heavier the bullet.

A larger bullet has more stopping power, but it also means heavier recoil, so if you’re already concerned about 10mm powerful recoil, you might want to opt for a lighter bullet. 

Bullet Type

The two most common types of bullets are full metal jackets (FMJ) and jacketed hollow points (JHP).

FMJ bullets are defined by their lower rate of expansion, which leads them to be faster and penetrate deeper than other bullet types. They’re also more affordable than JHP bullets. These factors mean that FMJ is the round of choice for range shooting.

Hornady’s Critical Duty FlexLock defensive ammo features a cannelured bullet and crimped case to prevent setback.

JHP expand after hitting a target to inflict more damage, making them better suited for hunting and self-defense. Good hollow points will have a controlled rate of expansion, helping them penetrate clothing and thick hides and ensuring that they’re deeper into the flesh when they do the most damage.

BEST 10MM AMMO FOR PRACTICE & PLINKING

Let’s start with some affordable but still decent rounds that do the job when you’re running drills or just relaxing at the range. 

Federal Premium American Eagle 10mm Auto 180 Grain FMJ

Federal American Eagle 180 grain FMJ is a subsonic round. That means that it has a relatively light recoil (well, for 10mm anyway) that allows you to spend as much time as possible at the range before getting tired and sore. It could also be handy for competition since the light recoil keeps your hand steady and your shots more accurate. 

Federal Premium American Eagle 10mm Auto 180 Grain FMJ
Federal Premium American Eagle 10mm Auto 180 Grain FMJ

As a subsonic round, it’s also quieter, helping to protect your ears, especially when combined with a suppressor. Of course, you’ll still need to use proper hearing protection like ear muffs and/or ear plugs. 

Finally, it’s very affordable without sacrificing quality, so you won’t have to worry about draining your wallet or jamming your pistol.

Remington UMC 10mm Auto 180-grain FMJ

Remington UMC is a popular favorite for range ammo, and this 10mm version fits that trend. 

Remington UMC 10mm Auto 180-grain FMJ
Remington UMC 10mm Auto 180-grain FMJ

This round isn’t anything special, but it’s cheap and reliable, which is really all you need for training or plinking. I’d stick with the Federal American Eagle for competition.

BEST 10MM AMMO FOR DEFENSE

Now let’s move on to some rounds to stock up on for your carry or home defense weapon. 

Hornady 10mm Auto 175-gr FlexLock Critical Duty

Hornady Critical Duty rounds are used by various law enforcement agencies, so that should be some assurance that it’s good enough for you too. 

Hornady 10mm Auto 175-gr FlexLock Critical Duty
Hornady 10mm Auto 175-gr FlexLock Critical Duty

The Flex tip and thick jacket help control the bullet’s expansion rate, so it’s solidly in flesh when it expands. The round’s nickel plating fosters smooth feeding.

This round’s velocity and energy are pretty middle-of-the-road but certainly high enough to get the job done without having to sweat too much about overpenetration. 

Federal Premium Personal Defense Hydra-Shok 10mm Auto

Federal Hydra-Shok rounds have been a popular choice for defense for the more than three decades since Federal first introduced them. 

Federal Premium Personal Defense Hydra-Shok 10mm Auto
Federal Premium Personal Defense Hydra-Shok 10mm Auto

The copper jacket provides a consistent expansion rate for more damage and deeper wounds. The recoil isn’t outrageous, so these rounds are great for beginners. The also provide enviable accuracy. 

BEST 10MM AMMO FOR HUNTING

Finally, let’s finish up with some rounds for taking down medium to large game. 

Hornady Custom 10mm Auto 180 gr XTP 

Hornady Custom ammo uses Hornady’s XTP bullet which is great for hunting. It’s a hollow point, so it expands, but not to the same degree as the hollow points above. Instead, it’s made for deeper penetration, which is helpful for hunting large game. 

Hornady Custom 10mm Auto 180 gr XTP
Hornady Custom 10mm Auto 180 gr XTP

It’s also useful for defending against animal attackers. While I wouldn’t use this round for bears, it should be plenty suitable for protecting yourself against feral hogs or dogs. 

Federal Premium 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw JSP 

Federal Trophy Bonded JSP rounds are ideal for hunting.

Federal Premium 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw JSP
Federal Premium 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw JSP

The soft point bullet offers good velocity for a hunting round, enhancing the bullet’s accuracy and allowing for deep penetration. These rounds are also quite powerful and will have no problem getting through thick hides and bones and doing plenty of damage while they do. 

They’re a great option for both hunting and defense against medium to large animals. 

The brass cartridges are also great for reloading if that’s your thing.

BEST 10MM AMMO FOR BEARS

10mm is powerful, but I wouldn’t use it for bear hunting. Rather, I suggest 10mm as a defensive weapon when you’re hunting, hiking, or whatever else in bear country. 

For that reason, I’ve listed my preferred bear rounds separately from my recommendations for defensive and hunting rounds. And because it’s a pretty specific use, I’ve only recommended one round. 

Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 gr. Hard Cast FN

It’s hard to top Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 220 gr. has the heaviest bullet of any 10mm ammo on the market, at least as far as I know.

Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 gr. Hard Cast FN
Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 gr. Hard Cast FN

The bullet doesn’t offer a lot of expansion, but it’s hard to top for penetration, and that’s what you need when trying to defend yourself from a bear — something that will have no problem breaking through a bear’s thick skull. 

LOOSE ROUNDS

Whatever you need 10mm ammo for, there’s a round above that will do the job for you. However, no ammo is a substitute for training and skill. Ammunition, and the guns you put that ammo in, mean nothing if you don’t take the time to get good. 

So grab some ammo and get shooting!

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One response to “Best 10mm Ammo Buyer’s Guide [Self-Defense, Hunting, & More]”

  1. jesse l. lutton says:

    excellent info… keep up the good work

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