A Unique Take on the Self-Defense Round

When it comes to concealed carry, proper ammunition selection is a defining factor. Over the years ammo companies have put a lot of time and effort into perfecting the self-defense round. However, recently HALO Ammunition, a new company on the scene, has changed the game with its unique offering. Let’s take a closer look.

The Purpose of Ammunition Like HALO

The 1986 FBI Miami shootout changed everything about how we look at ammunition. Working in federal law enforcement as a field agent and firearms/tactical instructor, I would get briefings about once a year from the FBI’s Ballistic Research and Development Center. Fascinating stuff.

What I learned was the ammo we were issued was the crème de la crème. And a lot of time and money was going into making sure it stayed that way. Please take a minute to familiarize yourself with the FBI testing protocol, if you aren’t already.

Do I think the FBI test is perfect? Of course not. I know that animal muscle is 1.5 times denser than human muscle. So, if I have to shoot a rottweiler, the bullet that works on a person will most likely underperform on the dog.

For that reason, I believe it’s better to have a bullet that tends to over-penetrate rather than hovering around the minimum 12-inch standard.

I’ve also never been a huge believer in retained bullet weight. I don’t care if the bullet splits into parts. So long as it stays in the body and transfers the maximum amount of energy. Besides, if the petals all go off in different directions, isn’t there a better chance of them hitting an artery or vital organ?

First Impressions

The Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous often brings in a few ammo companies. However, this last one had a newcomer called HALO Ammunition. At the time the company offered one round in 9mm but has now expanded to a similar bullet in .45.

The first thing you notice about this one piece, 99% copper bullet, is that it is pokey. I hate to get all technical, but when you touch it, the thought of it piercing your skin is disconcerting.

(Photo by Alex Landeen)

It felt so jagged that I was sure it wouldn’t feed in a lot of pistols. However, I was proven wrong as it functioned just fine in about a dozen different brands and types of guns that day. Those pokey petals are designed to peel off and spread immediately after the bullet enters the body.

The twist of the cuts in the bullet match up with typical rifling in a right-hand twist, pistol barrel. As a result is a more accurate bullet. I know there are a few European manufacturers who do a left-hand twist on barrels. But the norm in the U.S. is definitely right-hand twist.

HALO says this makes its bullets more accurate than standard ones. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Ransom Rest to do a true accuracy test. However, in the guns I have T&E’ed since Rendezvous, the HALO has always performed very well on accuracy.

Ballistic Gelatin Performance

Besides velocity, one other area I could test was how it performed in ballistic gelatin. The FBI currently authorizes two 9mm rounds for duty carry. This means that they have consistently passed all six testing standards within the parameters. These are the Speer G2 147 gr and the Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr. I decided it was time to pit the HALO against these two champions.

The author tests the ballistic performance of the new round.

I set up two 10% ballistic gel blocks back-to-back. Then I measured 6 feet back and set up a line with my Labradar. This ensured that the distance to the gel block was the same each time. I then fired one round at a time, measured the distance it penetrated, photographed and retrieved the bullets and any large fragments that it had shed.

For all testing I used a 9mm Glock 19 with a 4-inch factory barrel (results below).

The Hornady and Speer mushroomed uniformly, while the HALO shed its 5 petals and then continued as a solid sphere. The petals only penetrated about 4 inches, which makes sense when you think about how much less mass they have. Their spread was perfectly uniform.

The petals only penetrated about 4 inches and were perfectly uniform.
The petals only penetrated about 4 inches and were perfectly uniform. (Photo by Alex Landeen)

This test was far from conclusive for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I don’t have sufficient ballistic gelatin blocks to keep repeating the test to ensure a consistent performance. I was also only creating the first part of a six-part test. So, we did not get to see how it would do after penetrating clothing, drywall, or a car window. However, the initial testing looked very promising.

The HALO ammunition penetrated 17 inches into the ballistic gelatin.
The HALO ammunition penetrated 17 inches into the ballistic gelatin.

HALO certainly seemed to hold its own against the reigning champions.

Final Thoughts on HALO Ammunition

People spend hours debating the benefits of one handgun over another. We all have our favorites and have our own personal experiences that form these opinions. However, the truth is, bullet performance should be our number one concern.

A good performing bullet fired from a cheap gun is far more lethal than a poorly performing bullet fired from an expensive gun. I buy a lot of cheap ammo for practice at the range and competition. But when I choose my everyday carry ammo, price isn’t a factor.

The HALO ammunition shed its 5 petals and then continued as a solid sphere.
The HALO ammunition shed its 5 petals and then continued as a solid sphere.

I don’t need to buy cases of it. I just need enough to run one magazine through my gun to confirm my sights and malfunction-free operation. After that, I load my pistol and a spare magazine to capacity.

About once a year, I try to replace that ammunition with fresh rounds. This means I basically need to buy one box of 50 or three boxes of 20 rounds per year. While this ammunition is expensive compared to practice rounds, my, and my loved one’s lives, are worth it.

HALO ammunition is anything but cheap. However, seeing how it performs against the best of the best, I would certainly feel comfortable utilizing it as my every day, self-defense ammunition.

For more information, please visit HALOAmmunition.com.


Load Velocity Penetration in 10% gelatin
Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr 1090 fps 16 ¼”
Speer G2 147 gr 952 fps 17 ½”
HALO 107 gr 1142 fps 17 ½”
HALO Ammunition presents a unique take on the self-defense round.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

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