An in-depth look at the Speer Gold Dot line of ammunition. What makes it unique and why do self-defense shooters favor it?
Speer’s Gold Dot line of ammunition is one of the highest quality solutions for self-defense on the market. More than 3,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. issue Speer Gold Dot ammo for their officers’ duty weapons. Those agencies include the New York Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Private citizens are just as entitled to go home safely every day as police officers. That’s why Speer Gold Dot makes a great choice for your carry weapon even if you don’t wear a badge in your line of work.
What Makes Speer Gold Dot Reliable?
A failure to feed or fire at the range is an inconvenience at best. In a self-defense scenario, such a failure can prove life-threatening. That’s why Gold Dot ammunition complements its precision engineered JHP bullet with high quality supporting components.
Speer ammo comes from the CCI ownership group. CCI is another American brand name that helped to revolutionize the ammunition industry as they developed more reliable pistol primers. Every Gold Dot cartridge features CCI’s own sensitive and non-corrosive primer, which is paired with a carefully measured charge of clean-burning propellant. Together a Gold Dot round’s primer and propellant deliver consistent recoil and ballistic performance with every shot.
Every Gold Dot cartridge additionally features a new production nickel-plated brass case. Nickel offers three distinct advantages: reduced friction for more reliable feeding and extraction in a semi-automatic firearm, enhanced protection against corrosion, and greater visibility to facilitate a chamber check in poor lighting conditions.
Is Gold Dot Good for Self-Defense?
The Gold Dot bullet has three defining features that enhance its performance for self-defense: an alloyed lead core, a bonded jacket, and a specially formed hollow point nose cavity.
- Alloyed Core: Every Gold Dot bullet begins as an alloyed lead core. Because the core contains certain elements such as antimony, it is fortified to help the bullet remain intact as it penetrates barriers and soft tissue.
- Bonded Jacket: The Gold Dot was the first commercially available bullet with a bonded jacket and core. Speer utilizes a proprietary electrochemical process called the Uni-Cor method to bond the Gold Dot bullet’s jacket to its core, one molecule at a time. The benefits of the Uni-Cor method are two-fold. The jacket exhibits superior concentricity that enhances balance and in-flight stability, which promotes better accuracy. It is also virtually inseparable from its alloyed lead core, which helps the Gold Dot remain more of its weight as it penetrates barriers and soft tissue.
- Hollow Point Nose Cavity: Speer forms the Gold Dot bullet’s nose cavity in two stages. The first die press determines the width the bullet is capable of expanding to; the second controls the rate at which the bullet can expand. This ensures that each Gold Dot bullet delivers highly uniform terminal ballistics. Once its nose cavity has been precision formed, the Gold Dot bullet is polished to promote smoother feeding in semi-automatic handguns.
Why Is It Good for Self-Defense?
Speer designed the Gold Dot bullet to excel at the FBI test protocol for ammunition. The protocol involves a series of tests which determine how effectively a bullet can penetrate and expand within ballistic gelatin (which simulates the density of swine flesh) after having passed through a number of barriers. They fire all shots at a distance of 10 feet.
A bullet that always penetrates to the same depth between 14 and 16 inches, retains 100 percent of its weight, and expands to greater than a certain diameter depending on its caliber (0.625 inches in the case of 9mm) will receive a perfect score on the FBI test protocol and thus be deemed most suitable for self-defense by law enforcement professionals.
Does Law Enforcement Use It?
A ton of police departments all over the country use Gold Dot ammo. To give you a sense of Gold Dot ammo’s performance on the FBI test protocol, let us review the results of Speer’s own data for their 9mm 124 grain Gold Dot cartridge (SKU 53618).
|Barrier Type||Penetration (in)||Expansion (in)||Retained Weight (gr)|
We won’t go into the complicated math that is used to arrive at a perfect score of 500. We also wouldn’t suggest that any bullet could receive a perfect score.
What we can conclude is that the Gold Dot bullet consistently retains virtually 100 percent of its weight (with the exception of after having penetrated safety glass, which is the barrier bullets have the most difficulty overcoming) and expands to an average width of 0.5675 inches (which would earn it a 7 out of 10 according to the protocol). Ammo that penetrates fewer than 12 inches or deeper than 18 inches is heavily penalized. In spite of coming short of ideal, the Gold Dot bullet still consistently proves highly effective for self-defense. Cops wouldn’t favor it so heavily otherwise.
Our Independent Gold Dot Tests
We simulated a testing protocol similar to the FBI’s tests at our range. Firing the Gold Dot 9mm ammo with a 4-inch barrel and through a 4-layer cloth barrier, we found impressive penetration of about 15″ with our three shot grouping. You can see several of the Speer Gold Dot loads put through this protocol as part of our best self-defense ammo project here.
Are Gold Dot Personal Protection and Gold Dot LE the Same?
Gold Dot Personal Protection and Gold Dot LE are identical. The only difference is the packaging. Personal Protection cartridges commonly come in boxes of 20; LE cartridges usually come in boxes of 50. (Police often train with the same ammo they carry on duty and therefore need Gold Dot in bulk quantities. Though many opt to train with the Speer Lawman line of ammunition since it’s generally cheaper.)
What Is Gold Dot Short Barrel Ammunition?
As smaller, concealed carry pistols became the typical American civilian firearm, Speer responded.
The company designed Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition to optimize ballistic and terminal performance out of short-barreled weapons. These include sub-compact semi-automatic handguns and snub nosed revolvers.
Short Barrel cartridges feature bullets Speer engineered to still expand widely following lower velocity impact. (Typically, shorter barreled firearms mean your bullet travels at a slightly lower velocity. This means manufacturers should optimize the bullet for a 4.5″ barrel differently from one coming out of a 2.5″ barrel.) GD Short Barrel ammo also minimizes the recoil generated by a lightweight handgun.
What About Gold Dot G2 Ammunition?
The Gold Dot G2 bullet looks dramatically different from its predecessor. Instead of a conventional diameter nose cavity, the G2 bullet has a narrow, shallow nose cavity that Speer fills with elastomer. That supple polymer material forces its way into the G2 bullet core’s internal fissures when it makes contact with a soft target. This forces the bullet to expand, which helps yield reliable terminal expansion.
Because it lacks a traditional nose cavity, the G2 bullet offers more reliable feeding in a semi-automatic firearm as well. The elastomer keeps the hollow point resists clogging with debris as it penetrates barriers such as heavy clothing and plywood.
What Is Gold Dot Duty Rifle Ammunition?
Gold Dot Duty Rifle ammunition is available in 223 Rem, 308 Win, 300 AAC Blackout and 224 Valkyrie. Duty Rifle cartridges have soft point bullets instead of hollow points, but they still feature the same electrochemically bonded jacket that promotes greater accuracy and prevents core/jacket separation. Speer loads duty rifle ammunition with flash suppressed propellant to preserve the shooter’s night vision.
Is Gold Dot Made in America?
Vernon Speer founded the company in Lewiston, Idaho in 1943. Vista Outdoor bought the company years later, but Speer still manufactures all of their ammunition in the small city where Vernon Speer first set up shop.
Want to Buy Gold Dot?
AmmunitionToGo.com carries a full line-up of Speer Gold Dot ammo for sale to American shooters. You can see what we have in-stock by clicking the image below.