Home Defense Overpenetration: Shotgun, Handgun, Rifle Study

Here’s a study with objective testing written by Ken Whitmore:


Good info. One of my concerns is over penetration. Knowing that is not an issue would be one less problem to face after a self-defense incident.


Good read. Very good information.


Superb, very actionable information. I utilize several 9mm Luger pistols for home defense, chambered with Hornaday Critical Defense rounds. Overpenetration is a concern because the adjacent rooms are often occupied.


I think I see some Remington 62-grain Ultimate Defense PSP (Bonded) in my future. Wife already sleeps with ear plugs, maybe I should too (can still hear the first alert system thru ear plugs, aka “barking dog”) :grinning:

It’s halftime so don’t have 25 minutes to watch video right now, but this thread looks like it’s a good one:


Interesting post, to think about home safety and “over-scatter” and or over-penetration questions. Here’s an article the NRA sent me. It seemed to be geared toward women, but I think anyone interested in buying their first shotgun might learn from this brief:


Yup, resurrecting this thread. Garand Thumb made this video the other day on penetration with these ballistic dummies. Typically we see ballistics tests on gel and the tester makes sure it goes 12", checks wound cavity, etc. These test dummies are about as close to human as possible which is why I raised a bit of an eyebrow on the results. Long story short, one of the 9mm rounds tested was Federal HST. It went through the dummy, out the back and into the cardboard target a foot away from the dummy. The Hornady Critical Defense, Norma MHP, and Speer Gold Dot did not overpenetrate.

Although Federal HST passes FBI requirements, it’s seems like that is not necessarily safe as it’ll likely pass through the target pretty cleanly. Does this test make Hornady Critical Defense and the others (not the FMJ) better options?


My internet is not working well enough to watch the video but if he is shooting into dummies with ribs then he is introducing a whole lot of variables and likely shooting a very limited sample size. Interesting but not scientifically rigorous enough to make any decisions from.

Even the best designed bullets will do random things in real human bodies. Or in this case a potentially fairly realistic simulation. You would need to shoot dozens, preferably hundreds, of rounds from each manufacturer under these conditions to get some useful averages to compare.

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I agree with sample size. The thing that got me is that if you remove the FMJ test the HST test was the only round that escaped the body cavity.


I’ll have to watch this when I get more time. How many rounds of HST did he fire? Like stated earlier, bullets can do weird things.

The other rounds that did not go through tend to perform less as far as penetration and expansion. Is the lack of performance actually a con? maybe! What concerned me the most is consistent expansion. If you get a round that does not consistently expand, over penetration become a much bigger issue as well.

I think there’s a potential argument for .45 on the bases of over penetration. I think this has been brought up here and there on here. I still lean towards 9mm for capacity and recoil control. But 45 being a bigger/ slower round seems to inhibit over penetration while also releasing a ton of energy into the target, but then 45 can have the same issue if the barrel is too short or the ammo fails to expand…

Edit: watched the hst moment. Very interesting result! Super devistating hit. The first guy shot was disturbing, but the chest shot was less so. There was a fragment that left the body, but I’d think the target behind would be alright.

Really interesting point you brought up. Federal HST is my go to.

HST has been my go to as well which after seeing this video makes me question it. The expansion was the best by far but if an abdomen shot will go complete through and a chest shot still has fragments coming out it seems like a safety concern. I wonder what a 147-grain would look like.