Remington has a (relatively) new line of self-defense ammo on the shelves called Ultimate Defense. You might recognize the projectile design as similar to the famous performer, Golden Saber. I’ve tested those before in a number of different calibers and results are almost always outstanding. I’ve been carrying the .45 ACP 185 grain +P Golden Saber load in my 1911 for a couple of years now. This projectile is a jacketed lead hollow point, complete with the distinctive gold-tone coloring.
The 9mm Ultimate Defense ammo comes in two varieties: Full-size handgun and Compact handgun. It’s important to get the right one for your specific firearm. The Compact handgun is optimized for the lower velocities generated by guns with barrels less than three inches. The Full-size handgun variety is for, you guessed it, guns with four and five-inch barrels. For guns with a 3.5-inch barrel, I would pick the Compact handgun version, opting for better expansion performance.
This time, we’re looking at the Ultimate Defense 9mm 124 grain load for Full-size handguns. It’s a standard pressure load, not a +P, so especially in a larger handgun, it’s tame to fire. With lower recoil and less muzzle flip, you can get back on target more quickly for follow up shots.
So how does it perform? Let’s take a look.
Accuracy and Velocity
For accuracy and velocity testing, I used my standby accuracy pistol – a Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO. It shares a number of features with Sig’s match series Mastershop X-5 models. As such, it’s proven itself to be incredibly accurate with all ammo I’ve shot. For velocity reference, this gun has a 4.4-inch barrel.
First, I checked for velocity from the Sig P226 Elite SAO.
When you do the math, the average velocity works out to 1,130 feet per second. The extreme spread of a ten shot string is 60.7 feet per second. Standard deviation, or a measure of how close all the shot velocities are to the mean, worked out to 17.77, which is excellent.
To check accuracy, I mounted a Bushnell Elite 3500 Handgun Scope to the Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO using a UM Tactical rail mount. Five-shot groups came in at less than two inches. Looking at a best three shots to factor out some of the shooter error, my best group measured 1.28-inches. That’s pretty darn accurate in my book.
Penetration and Expansion
For expansion testing, I switched guns. Because, why not? Also, switching to a Beretta 92FS with threaded barrel allowed me to use a SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor, thereby causing less disruption to the neighbors during my gelatin block destruction.
Like all the defensive handgun ammo tests here, I shot through the standard FBI protocol four layer fabric. It consists of denim on the outside, an insulation layer, and two different cotton fabric layers. The idea is to provide a standard simulation of multiple clothing layers.
Behind the FBI fabric, I placed two 16-inch Clear Ballistics gelatin blocks, just in case the projectiles passed completely through the first one. Looking back, that was a good idea.
I fired five shots into the fabric-covered gelatin blocks to measure expansion diameter, retained bullet weight, and penetration depth. Here’s what I found.
You can’t ask for much more than that from a standard pressure 9mm cartridge. As you can see from the photos, all projectiles expanded perfectly to somewhere in the vicinity of 1.88 times original bullet diameter. More importantly, penetration was right where it should be, averaging 16.5 inches. All projectiles held together and retained the vast majority of their original weight, which goes hand in hand with proper penetration depth.
While it’s partially visible in the photos, they don’t do the wound channel results justice. If I had to pick a single word to describe the nature of the permanent wound tracks left in the gel blocks, it would be “wicked.” The projectiles created large spiral tracks like you might see if a propeller passed through that medium.
The Remington Ultimate Defense 9mm 124 grain Full-size handgun was a surprisingly effective 9mm round, especially considering it’s a standard pressure loading. Normally, I expect the +P rounds with an extra 50 or 100 feet per second velocity to perform like this through the FBI fabric layer, but this one is mellow to shoot and easy to control, yet still performed magnificently. If you choose to carry it, be sure to buy the right version for your specific gun, either the Full-size handgun or Compact handgun as appropriate.