Clay’s Ultimate 10mm Ammo Buyers Guide

Enough 10 for just about any problem

It has been an amazing year for us 10mm guys, at least on the gun front. Every company in the industry it seems has developed a new 10mm. Options abound in a way we have never seen. But with all this firearm development, how is the ammo? A question I have had for a long time as well. When we think of 10mm, most of us buy one with the idea of power in mind. Be it for a Grizzly gun or a surefire man stopper, the reason to go to a 10mm is magnum level performance in a semi-auto. Unfortunately, as most of you know, factory 10mm is usually loaded to 40 S&W velocities.

But usually doesn’t mean always. There are companies that load to true 10mm potential, just not a lot of them. Over the last two months, I have reached out to every company that makes full power 10mm, to see if they were willing to participate in a test. It is, unfortunately, true also that advertised specs are not always real world specs. To their credit, every ammo brand in the test not only wasn’t afraid of a chrono, but they also encouraged it. The companies that make real 10mm want you to know they make real 10mm.

Some of the hyped velocities we see in the ammunition world come from the use of test barrels. It is borderline from an ethics perspective, but it does happen. For our ammo buyers guide, we wanted to know numbers from real-world weapons. In the interest of fairness, we sought to cover the wide variety of barrel lengths and types of weapons. We eventually settled on a carbine, 2x 1911’s, and 2x striker fired polymers.

Test guns, courtesy of Springfield Armory and Thureon Defense

Carbines are actually quite hard to find in 10mm, which I view as shocking. Thureon Defense rogered up to support us, with a 16 inch AR type carbine. Thureon is a new company to me, but we will have a full review of the 10mm carbine coming up in a few weeks. One notable feature about the company, they will make you a carbine that feeds off your preferred magazine, be it XD, M&P, Glock, or Sig.

For handguns, Springfield Armory stepped up the plate with everything. It is staggering to think that Springfield had zero 10mm guns in the arsenal a year ago, and now they have seven. Since they have so many sizes and styles, it was a no brainer to use not only the 1911 models but the XD(M)’s. The two 1911s provided us with a 6-inch and 5-inch barrel length, while the XD(M) models provided a 5.25 inch and a 4.5. I have reviewed actually every one of these guns over the last year and found them to be reliable and functional. ( 6” 1911, 5” RO Elite, XD(M)) It was also a selection factor that they all have Picatinny accessory rails since we used a Magneto Speed for the test.

Magneto Speed, with rail adaptor

To accurately gauge the true velocity, a series of 10 rounds were fired for each load. That isn’t the biggest scientific sample, but it is still quite a lot at this price. With 15 different loads and five test guns, that works out to 750 rounds of premium 10mm. So as not to completely break my heart by shooting them into the berm, we did make the test a bit more fun with some reactive targets. Another benefit to the Magneto Speed, you don’t have to aim through a narrow channel to gather your data.

Chrono time is a lot more fun with targets that pop

Each load is presented below with pictures and performance.

Sig Sauer 180 Grain ball.

Advertised velocity: 1250

MSRP: $30.00/ 50 rounds

Cost per round: $.60

Sig Sauer 180 Grain V Crown.

Advertised velocity: 1250

MSRP: $28.00/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.40

Minuteman Ammunition 165 grain Speer HP

Advertised velocity: 1385

MSRP: $94.55/ 200 rounds

Cost per round: $.47

Buffalo Bore 180-grain JHP

Advertised velocity: 1350

MSRP: $31.55/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.57

Buffalo Bore 200-grain FMJ

Advertised velocity: 1200

MSRP: $31.55/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.57

Buffalo Bore 220-grain Hardcast

Advertised velocity: 1200

MSRP: $31.55/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.57

Doubletap Ammunition 125 Grain Barnes XTP-HP Lead-Free

Advertised velocity: 1600

MSRP: $69.49/ 50 rounds

Cost per round: $1.38

Doubletap Ammunition 135 Grain Controlled Expansion JHP

Advertised velocity: 1600

MSRP: $50.60/ 50 rounds

Cost per round: $1.01

Doubletap Ammunition 180 Grain Controlled Expansion JHP

Advertised velocity: 1305

MSRP: $49.75/ 50 rounds

Cost per round: $.99

Doubletap Ammunition 200 Grain FMJ

Advertised velocity: 1275

MSRP: $22.61/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.13

Double Tap Ammunition 230 Grain Hardcast

Advertised velocity: 1120

MSRP: $50.60/ 50 rounds

Cost per round: $1.01

Hornady 175 Grain Critical Duty FlexLock

Advertised velocity: 1160

MSRP: $24.99/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.25

Hornady 180 Grain XTP

Advertised Velocity:1275

MSRP: $19.99/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.00

Federal 180 Grain Trophy Bonded JSP

Advertised Velocity:1275

MSRP: $34.95/ 20 rounds

Cost per round: $1.74

Blazer 200 Grain FMJAdvertised Velocity: 1050

MSRP: $24.99/ 50 rounds

Cost per round: $.50

Conclusions

Overall, I am very impressed by the performance across the board. Some of the loads didn’t live up to advertised velocity, but it was at least close. Considering that it was 20 degrees during my test, along with environmental factors, everything was well within the margin of error.

We live not only in a golden era of 10mm guns but in things to feed them. If you have been hesitant to pick up a 10mm due to available rounds, that time has passed. Not only are premium defensive loads available, so is plinking ammo at a reasonable price. If you got something that goes bang for Christmas, now you know what to feed it.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • richard October 25, 2020, 6:48 pm

    looking for 10 mm 180 to 220 gr loking for home defense.have 10 mm hi -point carbine.thanksrich

  • LJ June 25, 2019, 1:01 pm

    Excellent Job Clay! I’ve been a big 10mm fan since I purchased a Glock 20 when they where first introduced and I found a few boxes of the original Norma loads. The problem over the last 30 some odd years has been the lack of full power factory rounds available, only the crappy FBI ‘lite” loads. I hand-load 10mm’s for plinking but there is no way I would carry a hand-load in my G29 for self defense.

    It’s good to know the 10mm is FINALLY growing in popularity. I accredit that to company’s like Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and others that have listened to their customers and given them what they have asked for!

  • Mike June 25, 2019, 6:31 am

    Clay, I’m not a 10mm guy, never tried one, but can and do appreciate your effort in this and everyone of your articles.

    Keep the articles coming please!!!1

  • Will Drider June 24, 2019, 6:25 pm

    Good data, very interesting: well done! Vid was entertaining and the best usage I’ve seen when collecting data points. It does however, appear that you raided your Wifes Pantry at great personal risk of life and limb. Your actions were above and beyond the Call of Duty. Please advise the “other Boss” to give you a raise.

    Keep up the good work.
    Semper Fi

  • TheHonkeyDonky June 24, 2019, 3:38 pm

    Thanks for the review Clay!
    I know this was a lot of work to provide the study as you have but it is very pertinent information. Even though a specific pistol isn’t listed, the ground you covered with the different barrel lengths lets me figure what to expect from my pistol. You covered all the ammo that is available at my LGS. I’ve never heard of the Underwood ammo that everyone is gripping about, but you can’t please everyone with their pet boutique ammo selections.
    Keep up the good work, I’ve missed the frequency of which you used to post reviews. I’ve had to settle for the dry-ass reviews from the admin. and other shirt-tuckers.

    THANKS!

  • Troy Schroeder June 24, 2019, 2:25 pm

    The only two new loads are the 200 grain Gold Dots and HST
    The author should have gotten a box of each for this test
    That’s what we all should be looking at all the other loads are not factory supported bullets for self defense they are 40 S&W bullets pushed past their velocity limits

  • triggerpull June 24, 2019, 1:28 pm

    Regardless of the underwood omission–outstanding job testing and compiling data (surprised there wasn’t more SA fanboy bitching) LOL.

  • Robert Campbell June 24, 2019, 1:11 pm

    I have the XDm 4.5 in 10mm, (Buffalo Bore 220gr Hardcast). Like it alot but anyone thinking 10mm is a good load for Grizzly is gonna get their feelings hurt. I live in Grizzly country, (NW Montana). When I’m out, I carry a S&W 500 or .44 magnum. Anything less than a .44 magnum, (with the correct load) just won’t get it done.

    I wish 10mm was a good load for Griz. Alot easier to manage than the 500 or even the 44. Will you find the outlier where a griz was taken with a 10 or even a 9mm? Sure. They should thank God for their good luck cause thats all it was, luck.

    You’re gonna get 1 maybe 2 shots off and they’re likely not to be the perfect shots so you need to have devastating effect wherever you do hit. You need way more power than the 10mm, (even with the best loads) can produce. There are a few guys out there with lots of real world experience so don’t take my word for it, just do the research.

    • graydude June 24, 2019, 7:41 pm

      Sir, were you able to test if the 20 and 22 lb. aftermarket springs increased velocities?

    • Josh Winter April 24, 2020, 1:25 am

      Apparently living in Montana makes you an expert. More people that live in grizzly country disagree with you than agree with you. 2 shots? Thats it? Maybe with you’re 6 shooters but I can get 2 shots off on a 10″ target at 20 yds in less than 1.5 seconds pulling from my holster. Sounds to me like you need to put more time in on the range and less pretending to know what you’re talking about.

      • ar July 23, 2021, 4:50 pm

        josh winter, i couldn’t agree with you more. i know quite a few people who live in alaska with real grizzly who carry a G20. Chukes outdoors has many different videos about even large coastal brownies being taken down with 10mm.

  • No1hunter June 24, 2019, 12:19 pm

    For all you guys asking why Underwood was not included in the test, did you actually read the article or just jump to the conclusion? Clay specifically said this:

    “Over the last two months, I have reached out to every company that makes full power 10mm, to see if they were willing to participate in a test. ”

    Apparently Underwood didn’t want to participate. Hum, I wonder why?????

    • Rane June 24, 2019, 2:27 pm

      I’m not sure what you’re implying, but if it’s that Underwood falsifies their velocities you sir would be incorrect. I’ve tested their ammo in 9,40, and 10mm. It checks out. Velocities were well within what they stated and in longer guns like XD tactical(5” barrel), MP5 clone 6” and 10mm DI AR15 they were surpassed. Even if they didn’t provide the ammo why not just buy a few boxes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong or illegal about testing a product that didn’t sponsor you. I’m just saying if you’re comparing the legitimacy of top end products don’t leave out the top end product. Otherwise I agree it was a great article and very interesting. I like Clay’s work.

      • No1hunter June 24, 2019, 11:01 pm

        I am not implying anything other than stating the facts and asking a simple question, I wonder why the didn’t want to participate. Apparently they don’t care or felt they had no need to participate.

        As for buy some. I wouldn’t. I would leave them out also.

        Thanks Clay for a great article.

  • Brien W. June 24, 2019, 12:05 pm

    I agree with Triggerpull. I think the 9X25 Dillon would be a great round for a 6 inch or longer pistol, and a fantastic round for a 16 inch carbine. With frangible projectiles, it would be a great pistol/carbine combo for law enforcement using the same magazines for both weapons. For law enforcement, a carbine with a 10 inch barrel and suppressor would be a great combo in 9X25 or 10mm.

  • VINCENT GRIER June 24, 2019, 10:29 am

    After reading the comments about Underwood Ammo, and checking out their website, I to wonder why Underwood Ammo 10mm was not tested, that ammo seems to be top of the line for performance.

    • Zupglick June 24, 2019, 12:12 pm

      Maybe because Underwood won’t give him free ammo.

  • Allan June 24, 2019, 10:22 am

    Where is Underwood Ammo in this review? For the price, they are the number one ammo maker out there.

  • Rane June 24, 2019, 10:16 am

    I’m glad to see buffalo bore made the test, but how does one simply ignore the most powerful ammunition manufacturer. I am of course referring to UNDERWOOD. Otherwise a great write up on an often ignored caliber. I’m glad to see it back in the limelight.

  • Rangemaster11B June 24, 2019, 9:17 am

    I’m still hoping to see that CZ 75 in 10mm for sale soon.

    • LowKey June 24, 2019, 2:38 pm

      Try an EAA Witness in 10.
      It’s a modified clone of the CZ-75.

  • BILL June 24, 2019, 8:50 am

    Well, this guy is writing a review of 10mm and 10mm ammunition and omits the best guns in 10mm and definitely the best 10mm ammo loaded available on the market today, Dan Wesson and Underwood Ammo. Oh well, still great to see the 10mm getting more mainstream coverage.
    Compared to 9mm and .45acp the 10mm is King. I will concede that the 9mm has made great strides in cartridge development lately and has moved into the 21st century but it will never compete with the 10mm in versatility or, which goes without saying, the capacity to stop the fight, fast. Recoil? Stop being pussies. The guns are too big. Stop being pussies, listen to, and take the advice of, Clint Smith.

    • Scott June 24, 2019, 9:52 am

      I noticed that too. Leaving Underwood out of an article about 10mm? They have twenty or so loads for that caliber alone. I thought I was the only one that noticed…..still, it is a nice article, and 10mm is pretty cool. I still recall my first Glock 20 back in 1990. Great pistol and cartridge. I enjoy 460 Rowland now for a large frame Glock power thrill, although it may shorten the life a little bit of whatever frame it is installed on.

    • Scott June 24, 2019, 10:14 am

      All true although recoil seems to bother some. My wife likes 9mm and is okay with 40 S&W or 45 ACP, but she does not care for 10mm or 357 Magnums, shooting those two very rarely. She never shoots 44 and up.

    • triggerpull June 24, 2019, 12:23 pm

      “9mm has made great strides in cartridge development lately and has moved into the 21st century but it will never compete with the 10mm in versatility or, which goes without saying, the capacity to stop the fight, fast”–Not so sure about that; have you spent time with the 9 x 25 Dillon?

      • Rane June 24, 2019, 2:34 pm

        Those great strides in development are not limited to the 9mm. The only great stride I saw was with the FBI. And I’d rather a drunk break dancing idiot shoot someone with a 9mm than any of the other choices common in today’s law enforcement.

  • triggerpull June 24, 2019, 8:30 am

    Since you’re a fellow connoisseur of 10mm I have 2 thoughts–get thee the components to build your own 10mm blow-back (though I have been watching CMMG’s Resolute PCC’s VERY closely for a hopeful 10mm offering at some point), the extra 300 to 400 fps will rock your world. You might also want to try the 9 x 25 Dillon at some point if driving a 9mm projectile over 2000 fps out of a 10mm case sounds intriguing. ; )

    • Rane June 24, 2019, 2:44 pm

      Why not DI with 10mm? That’s what I did. Blowback is sketchy with this round especially with hot loads. You need a massive buffer weight and the recoil is ridiculous considering the size and velocity of the projectiles. RMW extreme has been building DI PCC’s for a while and is quite good at it. I built mine with a 8” barrel and QC10 Glock mag lower. It uses a standard BCG with a 6.8 spc bolt. It locks open on empty and recoils like a 9mm. You can load way past max pistol data thanks to AR chamber. The brass is good to 47K. So I load to just over 40k and the brass looks fine. Velocities are insane. 135 gr are going 1900. I loaded some Lehigh xtreme defense 115 gr to over 2000. It has an SB tactical collapsible brace so it’s technically a pistol. Very accurate out 100 yards. I’m using a holosun red dot so my groups are only as good as the size of the dot.

  • Dr. Strangelove June 24, 2019, 8:25 am

    Cool test.

  • Mark A June 24, 2019, 8:23 am

    Missed my favorite 10mm ammo…
    Underwood.
    Little company with heavy loads!
    They have been making quality 10mm ammo for years.

    • Scott June 24, 2019, 9:45 am

      Right??? How can Underwood not be included in this?

      • Isaac September 8, 2019, 12:17 pm

        There is no need to Advertise the Best

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