New Defensive Handgun Loads from Black Hills Ammunition

By Joseph P. Tartaro,
SAF President

When it comes to precision rifle loads, many people turn to Black Hills Ammunition, in part because the South Dakota firm is the first choice for the shooting teams of all four US branches of the military. These elite competitors have come to rely on Black Hills for the ultimate in precision manufacture and quality control.

The 135-grain .45 ACP is one of three new HoneyBadgerTM loads introduced for 2017.

The 135-grain .45 ACP is one of three new HoneyBadgerTM loads introduced for 2017.

Many pistol shooters also rely on Black Hills for the highest quality, most effective handgun ammunition. And for the same reasons: precision loading and superb quality control.

Black Hills doesn’t manufacture their own bullets, powder, primers or brass. Instead they select the best components they can find from among other manufacturers, and combine them for the ultimate in performance in a specific caliber. As a result, they have become the first choice for many gun writers who test and tell their readers about the field trials of new handguns both for accuracy and reliable performance. For similar reasons many law enforcement departments choose Black Hills, as well as thousands of competitors and daily concealed carry Americans who bet their lives on the defensive ammunition they load in their carry guns.

Black Hills is always on the lookout for new technology that will improve the performance of their ammunition, and each year they introduce new purpose-specific loads. They track the performance of these loads as they seek to provide the best defensive ammunition choices in each caliber.

So it was in 2016 that they introduced a new load featuring a non-expanding, all brass bullet with hard cutting edges in .380 ACP and .38 Special. These new bullets have deep flutes that outperform the best defensive hollow point ammunition. Developed in concert with another manufacturer, Lehigh Defense, these new bullets literally and efficiently cut through barriers that plug conventional hollowpoints, while creating larger, deeper wound paths.

While the .380 ACP and .38 Special are considered by some shooters as unpowered for personal defense, these two calibers are still popular with many gun owners. The .380 is a popular chambering in small, light, easily concealed autoloaders available from just about every  handgun manufacturer in US or the world. The maligned .38 Special, once upon a time the standard load for most police agencies, is still offered in 4-inch and 6-inch barreled revolvers for home or open carry, and in snub-nosed revolvers ideal for concealed carry.

The Black Hills loads for these two calibers, while lighter in bullet weight than many other same caliber loads on the market, generate more energy and higher velocity, making them a top choice

lose-up view of one of the sharp cutting edges of the new Black Hills HoneyBadger® defense loads.

lose-up view of one of the sharp cutting edges of the new Black Hills HoneyBadger® defense loads.

for men and women who carry guns in those calibers. The 60-grain Extreme Defense load introduced in 2016 generates 176 foot pounds of energy traveling at 1150 feet per second. The sister 100-grain .38 Special load traveling at 1275 feet per second generates 361 foot pounds. In both cases, these Black Hills defensive loads outperform many conventional heavier competitors.
When first introduced last year only in .380 ACP and .38 Special loads, they got extensive testing and many men and women who choose those calibers for their personal carry guns immediately switched.

So effective did they prove that this year, Black Hills added three more loadings using the same bullet design, which they renamed HoneyBadger™.

This year, Black Hills added three more defensive loads to the all-new HoneyBadger™ family. These include a 9mm 125-grain loading, a .45 ACP 135-grain for the ultimate in self-defense, plus a HoneyBadger™ .44 Magnum 160-grain for hunting or defense against four-legged predators. The new HoneyBadger™ 9mm and .45 ACP loads were designed to provide optimum performance in ballistic gelatin while avoiding over-penetration, as the illustration here indicates.

The folks at Black Hills Ammunition are never satisfied with the status quo. They’re always striving for improvements to get the most out of every pistol or rifle ammunition that they manufacture. Since they don’t make their own bullets, or cases, or powder, or primers, they are able to choose the best components available from legendary industry friends and carefully craft them into improved Black Hills Ammunition. And, above all, they concentrate on quality control with multiple inspections, from raw components, through production and into the boxes.

For example in rifle fodder, when  Hornady recently discovered ways to make already excellent bullets even better, Black Hills wanted to utilize that new technology. Using Hornady’s new ELD-M® (Extreme Low Drag-Match) and ELD-X® (Extreme Low Drag – eXpanding) bullets, Black Hills upgraded their Gold rifle lineup with the highest BC bullets available. The result is flatter and more effective rifle shooting at longer ranges, in almost a dozen new loadings from .260 Remington up to .338 Lapua, offering shooters and hunters  many new choices with increased performance.

The new HoneyBadger™ pistol ammunition from Black Hills should be on dealer shelves  as this issue went to press, or very soon thereafter. To learn more and see videos, visit their website at:, or phone them at 605-348-5150