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I carry a .45 and at home in the middle of nowhere I carry FMJ or cast handloads. I have found several JHP loads(all 230gr.) to be pretty awesome and the Ranger T-Series and HST are always at the top. Gold Dot's are my third choice for factory ammo and they are pretty amazing bullets for a third place choice.

For 9mm factory loads I have always liked the 147gr. HST and Winchester T-Series. 124gr. HST's and Gold Dot's are pretty awesome as well. I have no doubt that other bullets are amazing, but these have worked for me for a long time. I like the Federal AE 147gr. FMJ because it has a flat nose, hits hard and is in my experience very accurate.

.380 we only carry as a pocket gun and for that I only trust FMJ to have a chance of penetrating properly.

In 5.45x39 I love good ol' 7N6, but the 53gr. Hornady V-Max factory load explodes violently and is what I would use in or near the house.

In .308 I am very impressed with the 108gr. fragmenting mil-surp bullets, but I haven't shot anything with those in a long time. I don't use the .308 for HD, but that would be the one.

In my 12ga. I have two #4 buckshot loads followed by five rounds of 00 buckshot. I have another 12ga. with #6 birdshot for skunks.
 

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The Lehigh bullets do see
Thank you for the detailed and helpful follow up, @Merton and extending to more common calibers! The fact you can reload is an awesome plus, especially given no boon in the future of the ammo marketplace.

I want to share a suggestion and solicit feedback from others too wrt the usage of FMJ in different calibers. The primary scenarios for using FMJ as far as I understand it are: (1) concern a JHP wouldn’t expand given some problem (e.g., insufficient velocity, HP cavity plugged), and (2) a requirement for deep penetration.

Both of these can be addressed (after proper self testing) with the full copper, non-expanding Lehigh Defense penetration bullet which is available from them, WC (Wilson Combat bought the company), and Underwood.
View attachment 1132807
After stripping lots of marketing talk, they say this: ”…the Xtreme Penetrator Fluid Transfer Monolithic (XP FTM) product line, for both handgun and rifles. The progressive nose geometry allows for deep, straight penetration while creating a permanent wound cavity diameter exceeding that of most expanding bullets.

The rest of the above as well as their offerings can be found on:Xtreme Penetrator - Our Technologies and it would be great if anyone who has done first hand testing, or research into these and can offer an informative view rather than my testing suggestion.
I have yet to shoot the Lehigh-type bullets but the data that is out there is very compelling. It really does seem to work as advertised.

For me, your suggested uses of FMJ is about spot on. In the end, a non-expanding HP will still act as a FMJ, theoretically. I believe that under penetration is the biggest deterrent to me. I do not live with North America's large Brown and Grizzly bears, but I do live with cougars, wolves, feral dogs, black bear and other vicious if smaller animals like badger. 12-18 months ago I shot a badger at under 15 yards with a .45 FMJ and it did not exit that little animals body. It died, but it did not pass through and to this day I have wondered if somehow I missed the exit hole, but I didn't. That bullet stayed inside and it made me rethink everything. I used to carry a Ruger LCP .22lr in my jacket pocket as something of a "backup". Not only is it too unreliable of a backup as it is a semi-auto and a rimfire(a centerfire revolver is the true belly gun), but then of course there is the underwhelming performance of .22lr out of 2" barrels.

For me, the use of FMJ/hardcast is for a few reasons. I believe that reliability of course is tops with RN bullets. I also believe that cast will shoot better than lead in 90%+ barrels. I love the 200gr. SWC in the .45 as it is accurate and effective, but reliability drops with the SWC profile. The .45 is in my opinion the "perfect" cartridge for defense because the diameter, weight and slow speed are an ideal combination for bipedal animals that are under 24" deep at the juicy bits. My only concern with HP's in the .45 for my personal situation is that they could underpenetrate on a wolf or cougar, but though they live right outside my door Oregon has neither a cougar nor wolf attack of a human in the record, ever.
 

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Underwood 40 S&W and 10mm monolithics.

Recently bought some monolithic (copper) bullets and will be doing some of my own loads soon. Can't afford a steady diet of Underwood!
The monolithic stuff is uncharted territory for me. I used to load the 135gr. Nosler and 155gr. XTP's in .40 & 10mm. I hope you share your results as I for one am very curious.
 

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Shot placement is everything. Every night around here huge mule deer are taken cleanly with .22lr, .22mag, .17 Hornet, etc. and they are NOT little east coast blacktails. Generally the .17's are for neck shooting. It is not illegal and people brag about it openly, though I don't see the brag myself. The largest cougar that I have ever seen was in the back of a Klamath's truck when I was gassing up at the Rez casino before dawn one morning. He hit it with his brights and shot it from the drivers seat of his truck without even turning off the ignition or leaving the highway. You'd have thought he scaled mountains searching for Dall Sheep or something, he was so proud.

The behavior is disgusting, but the performance of the rounds is quite frankly shocking. That is not the same as a defensive shooting, but it is a 200+-animal dying from a very small bullet wound.
 

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Don't know about that as I seem to recall reading quite a few articles of late about people surviving being shot in the head. :unsure:
Scary thing is, they sometimes don;t even lose their footing. Can you imagine taking a head shot and staying standing?

A head shot may not kill, but getting inside the brain pan definitely increases your chances compared to structural damage of the brain chassis.
 

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I'll carry almost any top-tier, American made 230gr JHP in .45, but I generally carry Gold Dots. I also have no problemo with carrying good ball ammo in the .45.

In the woods I'm probably carrying a revolver with a mix of above plus Buffalo Bore and maybe a pop of snake shot, depending.
This is a good point for anyone in snake territory. We have ratllesnakes less than 50 miles to the east and though I don't understand why they don't live here, I'm thankful.

FWIW, I have tried many snake loads and a .357 with a small rifle primer and #9 shot is very effective but the CCI "Big 4" shot loads that were new a decade or so ago(I don't know if they're still made) are awesome. The .38/.357 load is too small in my opinion but the .44 Special and .45 Colt Big Four loads has enough shot to make the larger #4 sized shot very attractive from what I've seen.
 
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